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Lebanon's Ernie Brown Jr., the Turtleman, promotes second season of his TV show in NYC

By Stevie Lowery
The Lebanon Enterprise

The verdict is out on whether or not "Today Show" host Matt Lauer is a Turtleman fan, but the rest of New York City thinks he's "snapperlicious."

"They love me here," Ernie Brown Jr., the Turtleman, said Thursday afternoon via telephone from The Big Apple. "People keep coming up to me wanting autographs, taking pictures. It's a big place up here."

Brown was in New York City last week promoting the second season of "Call of the Wildman" on Animal Planet, which aired its first episode Sunday evening. He appeared on "The Today Show" Thursday morning and also interviewed with various media outlets from around the country.

"New York City is the foxiest place," he said. "People are so foxy here. They're just beautiful!"

From New York City to California, Turtleman fans span the country, and he's trying to meet as many of them as possible.

"I love it. I just like making people happy," he said. "Makes me feel good. It will never get old."

He's traveled near and far during his animal-trapping adventures and every place he's visited has left an impression on him.

"California is the shiniest place I've ever been," he said. "The people shine. Even the town shines. Louisiana, if you want to eat, they will get you anything you want. They are the eatin'est people. Deleware, they're always fishin' or catchin' crabs. West Virginia, them people love to dance!"

And, as any Turtleman fan knows, he also loves to dance.

He's self-taught, and he said he even knows how to do the waltz, along with some good ole' square dancing. Any woman who has danced with the Turtleman can attest that "the dip" is his signature move.

So far, one of his favorite dance partners has been actress Sarah Michelle Gellar, who he danced with at a party at television/film producer Jerry Bruckheimer's home in Bloomfield.

"She kissed me on the cheek," Brown said, proudly.

And, while Gellar might be Turtleman's celebrity crush, he actually has a girlfriend. He said they started out as pen pals, but their relationship has progressed since then. She even accompanied him to "The Tonight Show" with Jay Leno last year.

"I guess you could say she was my date to the Jay Leno Show. You can't beat that," he said, laughing.

The Turtleman has appeared on "The Tonight Show" not once, but twice, and he's met several celebrities during his trips across state and country, including Canadian Pop/R&B singer-songwriter Justin Bieber, "River Monsters" host and extreme angler Jeremy Wade, NASCAR driver Carl Edwards, actor and comedian Eddie Murphy, host of Kentucky Afield Tim Farmer, writer Byron Crawford, comedian Larry the Cable Guy, actor Thomas Hayden Church and singer Johnny Mathis.

Thursday, when the Enterprise spoke to Brown, he said he wanted to meet American journalist, author, and television personality Anderson Cooper.

Friday, the Turtleman made that happen.

He surprised Cooper on his television show, "Anderson Cooper 360" on CNN.

Another person on Turtleman's list of people he wants to meet is the "president of Rolling Stone Magazine."

"I want to be on the cover of Rolling Stone," Brown said. "I seen that magazine when I was five years old. I've wanted to be on the cover since then."

So far, nothing seems impossible for the Turtleman.

The world is his oyster... or turtle... and he's got it by the tail.

But, his goal remains the same - to make people happy.

"I'm doing it to cheer people up," Brown said. "I cheered Kentucky up, and somebody dared me to come out and cheer the United States up. I think I'm doing a pretty good job so far."

Q & A with the Turtleman


Aside from catching turtles, what are your other hobbies?

"I love looking for arrowheads and spending time with my kids."

The Turtleman has two daughters, Megan, 12, and Courtney 16.

What are your favorite foods?

"I love sweet potatoes and ribeye steak. Now that I have a little money to buy it, I eat it as often as I can."

Turtleman also says he really likes okra and frog legs. He said he doesn't eat turtle much anymore...

Are you ever going to get any other tattoos besides the one on your arm that you're so proud of?

"Nope, that's the only one."

"Hopes and dreams coming true" is the name of his tattoo.

Some people say your show is embarrassing for Kentucky. While others say they love it because you're "real." Thoughts?

"A lot of people think I'm staging it, but I'm not. Anybody who thinks I am come on down here and get you some. Come catch a turtle with me. I'll jump in any pond, as long as it's not in deep water because snapping turtles don't live in deep water. It's not fake. It's wild. It's crazy. People can't help but like me. I can't make nobody like me or love me. If they like the show, great. If they don't, then don't watch."

The second season of "Call of the Wildman" will feature more of Brown's adventures catching beavers, coyote, muskrats, possums, river otters, skunks, and squirrels. In this season, Brown will be reaching out beyond the Kentucky state border, visiting tornado ravaged communities and searching for a creature inside a coal mine.

What scares the Turtleman?

One of the Turtleman's biggest fears is disappointing his fans. Now that he has a television show and an agent, his schedule is more restricted. There's not much time to be entertaining at birthday parties anymore.

"I get scared that my fans are going to get mad at me," Brown said. "I would never want to hurt my fans."

If you weren't Turtleman, what would you be doing?

"I guess I'd still be at the sawmill cutting boards... or digging ditches... doing hard labor."

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