The Animal Planet programme Call of the Wildman was best compared to a cross between Billy the Exterminator and The Crocodile Hunter. Call of the Wildman, so named after Ernie “The Turtleman” Brown, Jr.’s distinctive yell, aired for four seasons before abruptly ceasing to exist.
The programme followed the Kentucky-based Turtleman as he answered to requests from folks who needed assistance getting rid of unwanted and potentially dangerous pests. The Turtleman was mostly toothless and carried a bowie knife. His distinct method of taking down difficult prey—typically with just his hands—quickly attracted a devoted following, but the show abruptly ended after the fourth season. So what happened to the state of Kentucky’s beloved son? This is the Turtleman’s secret history.
Table Of Content
- 1 An investigation effectively canceled the show
- 2 He almost died from a turtle bite
- 3 He helped organize a water-collection drive for victims of the Elk River chemical spill
- 4 He lost his teeth in some nasty accidents
- 5 He started catching turtles for food when he was seven years old
- 6 He’s recording an album
- 7 He’s still making public appearances
- 8 His catchphrase is ‘Live action!’ but a lot of what he does is staged
- 9 His house sounds like a nightmare version of Dr. Dolittle
- 10 The return of The Turtleman
- 11 Turtleman lost his NWCO license in Kentucky
An investigation effectively canceled the show
After a seven-month investigation into Call of the Wildman, Mother Jones exposed the dubious staging of the show’s “rescues” in addition to some severe charges of animal abuse and mistreatment. They labelled the production as having “a culture that condoned morally and legally questionable behaviour.”
Mother Jones alleges the production team was engaged in drugging animals “in violation of federal standards,” citing numerous instances of suspected animal mistreatment, and was negligent in properly documenting “wildlife activities” for Kentucky officials. One instance of this was when Turtleman “captured” and then sedated a zebra, which the show’s producers later revealed they had bought from a nearby drive-through animal safari. There was also the episode where Turtleman killed a bat while removing bats from a beauty salon, possibly breaking municipal ordinances that forbid “carrying a bat to a new location for entertainment reasons alone.” Show producers later revealed that they staged the sequence.
Then there was the alleged rescue of three newborn raccoons, which Turtleman allegedly discovered after taking the “mother” inside the laundry room of a Kentucky family. According to raccoon specialist Karen Bailey, who heads the Kentucky Wildlife Center, the mother raccoon turned out to be a male, and the young had been captured days before the incident. When show producers brought the raccoon cubs to Bailey at her centre after Turtleman “rescued” them, she was only able to save two of them since they were “emaciated” and “nearly dead.” “I don’t personally have anything against (Ernie Brown). I believe that this reality television programme is subpar and poorly written. Animal Planet ought to be aware of better “Informed LexGo, Bailey. And her statements must have struck a chord with viewers because Call of the Wildman’s ratings fell by 43% following the initial Mother Jones exposé, which appeared between seasons three and four. The Turtleman never came back after that disappointing fourth season, despite there never being a formal cancellation statement from Animal Planet.
He almost died from a turtle bite
It should come as no surprise that this man’s life has been marked by an unusual and terrible propensity for imminent death. He admitted to biting himself 33 times by the deceptively docile-appearing insects, telling Channel Guide Magazine that “each one hurt like hell.” He claimed that the bite was almost fatal “One of the snapping turtles also bit me where your wrist is, necessitating cauterization and preventing me from working for about seven months. I nearly died of bleeding.”
He provided another example of a bite story where a snapper grabbed him in “the location over there.”
I then exclaimed, “Ohhhh noooo!” and rolled on the bank with it before finally throwing it off me. When my pants came undone, everyone on the bank just burst out laughing. “Ha! Isn’t it funny, you guys, that I nearly died from turtle bites?
He helped organize a water-collection drive for victims of the Elk River chemical spill
Despite controversies and absurd tales, the Turtleman appears to have a sincere and laudable commitment in assisting others. He frequently promotes philanthropic causes on his Facebook page, and he even collaborated with the West Virginian Wirt County Office of Emergency Services to host a donation drive on behalf of the locals whose water was tainted by chemicals that poured into the Elk River nearby. According to The Herald Dispatch, volunteers “had packed three 5-ton National Guard trucks with donations” by the end of the drive. These donations included bottled water, paper goods and cutlery, baby wipes, and other necessities for people who had gone days without access to usable water.
Regarding his choice to donate his fame to the cause, Turtleman said to the newspaper, “I can understand what it’s like to not have access to water to drink because we haven’t had running water since I was a young child, and things are still the same now. I gather rainwater for washing, but I have to go to my mother’s house for drinking water. I knew I had to help when I saw these people struggling and in need. I am aware of how it is.” Okay, so who represents this guy? Because they must be permanently banned from the entertainment sector.
He lost his teeth in some nasty accidents
The Turtleman is renowned for his enormous knife, raccoon-tail cap, and wildman yelp in addition to his poor oral hygiene. The majority of people begin improving their oral hygiene as soon as they begin earning any TV money, but not Turtleman. However, it appears that nature didn’t even get a chance to rot out those chompers, as a series of horrifying catastrophes did it first. Yes, the natural impulse here is to believe, “His family was diving into ponds for supper, there’s no way they ever went to the dentist.”
Turtleman described his history of pain in an interview with Syracuse.com, revealing that he only had seven teeth left in his skull. “There were actually three distinct instances. In the first incident, a man struck me in the face with a chainsaw while we were cutting through some undergrowth. That required 189 stitches to repair me. There, I lost a couple teeth, “He remembered. Okay, sure. That’s terrible. There’s more, what?” After that, while I was travelling down the road, I swerved to miss a tractor that had just pulled out and an approaching car. In an effort to cross a ditch and enter a cornfield, I attempted to gas it like the Dukes of Hazzard. I failed to cross the ditch.” Because this guy is evidently a walking Final Destination movie franchise episode in addition to being a weird person who grabs wild animals with his bare hands, the third time a piece of scrap metal was blown into his mouth while he was roofing.
He started catching turtles for food when he was seven years old
While much of the Call of the Wildman may have been made up, the man who plunges head first into filthy backcountry ponds in Kentucky in quest of turtles is absolutely real. In actuality, Earl Brown Jr. has only ever known a life of struggle. Brown discussed the genesis of his moniker in a Channel Guide Magazine interview. “One day, when we were out of food, my uncle came over and took my father and me to these old farm ponds, saying, “I’ll show you how to get some meat on the table.” As soon as he entered the pond, turtles began to emerge. I was astounded and pleaded with my father to let me try “said he.
His assertion that he has been using this method to collect turtles for “almost 40 years” places his birth year in the 1970s, which is not exactly a historical era in which people would have been scavenging for food in this manner. However, it does clarify a statement Brown makes in another interview with Syracuse.com. “People believe I am millionaire. I understand how to be famous, but I still don’t understand how to get wealthy. I am the most infamous person in poverty. Last year, I only brought in $50,000, and that’s before taxes. I’d love it if you could get my supporters to send me stamped, self-addressed envelopes. I make an effort to respond to everyone.” If that’s the case, it’s frustrating and heartbreaking all at same, given that his chance for stardom also completely destroyed the way he supported himself for years prior to the show.
He’s recording an album
Turtleman is putting together a series of records with fellow country musician Steve Oliver that will chronicle his life. The first tune, “Turtleman Strong,” which he recently revealed, already has a music video. This is the Turtleman’s most ambitious project to date; according to this Facebook video, he and Oliver have spent the last two years writing 90 songs that they intend to release across three albums. “You guys haven’t seen anything yet. Turtleman will return in 2017. Turtleman powerful, “At the end of the video, a wild man from Kentucky insists. He or whoever managed his page also responded to a query regarding his now-defunct programme, writing, “Actually, they cut ties after the production company’s contract expired. There are plans to produce more TV in the future…” which brings us to
He’s still making public appearances
Although the Turtleman hasn’t produced any new episodes of his show in years, he continues to be widely adored. According to The Oneida Daily Dispatch, he currently interacts with followers by appearing at occasions like the Big East Camping and Outdoor Sports Show in upstate New York, where followers could pay $15 for a VIP meet-and-greet with the toothless critter catcher. According to reports, the Turtleman told them of his present attempts, “I’m just trying to cheer up the world.”
The Turtleman, according to his Facebook profile, went to Hillbilly Days for the first time in Pikeville, Kentucky, where he recorded a video of himself learning how to make lemonade from one of the vendors. Although he doesn’t actually perform the “live action” of trapping a beaver that is gnawing away at the mine’s supports, he does yell in his trademark fashion as he mixes the drink, so the flare is still present.
Hundreds of fans waited in line to meet the wildman at the Harrison County Recreation Complex in Clarksburg, West Virginia, where he was also present. “He is real. It’s amazing that he is the same person on and off camera. Celebrities don’t interest me, but this guy does “While awaiting his arrival, one excited fan spoke to The Exponent Telegram. The Turtleman might still be able to return to his days as a TV star, just in case his lemonade stand doesn’t pan out.
His catchphrase is ‘Live action!’ but a lot of what he does is staged
Turtleman insisted he is the real deal during an interview with Channel Guide Magazine. “I’ve been called fake, but there isn’t any fake. Please give it a shot! We’re performing it live. We are present and working. It’s true that I’m catching animals, “said he. However, Mother Jones reports that the production business that introduced the Turtleman into American homes creates “directed reality” shows in which they seek out outspoken individuals and “heavily produce” their stories. The Turtleman may be endearingly sincere, but his TV programme was definitely not.
As evidenced by remarks made by Patricia Kollappallil, senior vice president of communications, who addressed an episode in which “a poisonous non-native snake was released into a city swimming pool without proper authorization,” according to LexGo, Animal Planet is actually remarkably forthright about this fact. “Since we clearly do dramatisations, this wasn’t news to us or a hot topic. Snakes were brought in by Sharp. There are occasions when we require a specific animal for a plot, and we’ll work with a licenser to find the specific species “explained Kollappallil.
In addition, Mother Jones reports that “Sharp producers even go as far as to construct false animal droppings using Nutella, Snickers bars, and rice,” and that “It was part of my job to call around individuals to trap animals at the direction of Sharp… It’s 100% phoney.” The fact that Ernie “Turtleman” Brown Jr. once held a Kentucky Nuisance Wildlife Control Officer (NWCO) licence, however, was unquestionably real. The crucial emphasis there is on the past tense.
His house sounds like a nightmare version of Dr. Dolittle
The Turtleman surprisingly doesn’t have a lot of pets. In actuality, Lolly, his dog who played a significant role in the programme, is the only domesticated animal he keeps around. However, he said in an interview with Hollywood Soapbox that there is still a sizable quantity of wildlife in and around his home, including two cats that manage mice and a snake by the name of Sir Lancelot that “simply comes and goes as it pleases” but also takes care of any mice inside. It sounds like he has a serious vermin problem in addition to what might be a wild snake with a back door key. Oh, and the turtle was almost forgotten since, of course, there is one.
“Then I acquired a pet snapping turtle that still has the ability to bite. This is not a pet. When it was very small, it was run over. It has been around for almost five years. I reassembled it with Super Glue. Chester is a snapping turtle that has been super-glued together and who has recovered. The only turtle I know who was Super-Glued together and survived it was in the United States. That is a real-life true story “He exulted. To summarise, there are too many mice in the house for two feral cats to handle, a snake who slams into the couch whenever he feels like it, and a Frankenturtle with a grudge. Cozy.
The return of The Turtleman
The Turtleman launched his very own YouTube account despite the fact that his trapping techniques are very low-tech. Even though the channel has been online for more than three weeks and only has 910 subscribers as of this writing, it is clear that word of the Turtleman’s new endeavour has not yet spread. Or it might be that without expert staging, his antics aren’t quite as amusing. For example, have a look at these videos where a monkey pets his arm or gets a haircut. The snake, who even has a name—Earl—has been there for 12 years, although in another video, he does “relocate” one that is hanging out in the rafters of a cabin at the Little Ponderosa Zoo. The Turtleman is back to doing what he does best, but it wasn’t quite the “live action” of capturing potentially hostile raccoons. Nevertheless, the zoo visitors seemed to like it.
Turtleman lost his NWCO license in Kentucky
A violation of Turtleman’s NWCO licence was issued following an episode in which he wrangled a deer out of a store in exchange for “an actual outfit of armour” in 2013, the year before the show stopped producing new episodes. Deer, unfortunately, did not fall under the purported wild man’s purview as a nuisance cop. So the state of Kentucky sent him a friendly reminder that he risked losing his licence for three years and/or receiving a criminal citation if he was ever found to “take, pursue, or attempt to take or pursue, or otherwise molest an elk, deer, wild turkey, or bear in a manner contrary to the Department’s regulations.”
Following the deer incident and the damning Mother Jones investigation, which also uncovered errors in Turtleman’s NWCO paperwork, a number of organisations, including the USDA, The Humane Society of the United States, and PETA either opened investigations or outright demanded the show’s cancellation. Turtleman’s lack of a state-issued nuisance officer licence was further confirmed to Mother Jones by the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife. The department’s official spokesperson refrained from explaining why that particular action was taken, but he did say of the show, “They shouldn’t be doing anything in Kentucky.” At this point, the once cooperative Sharp Entertainment and Animal Planet formed a defensive ring and declined to provide Mother Jones with any additional information regarding the USDA inquiry. The quick conclusion of the programme that same year pretty much speaks for itself, even if it was never explicitly stated that Turtleman became too much of a problem.
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