Aided by his friend, Neal James, and his dog, Lolly, Brown operateed a nuisance animal removal business, catching and releasing nuisance animals. The series was primarily filmed near Brown's Lebanon, Kentucky , home. Brown began catching snapping turtles from ponds near his home at the age of 7. He came to the attention of Animal Planet producers in part after an episode of Kentucky Educational Television 's Kentucky Afield series that featured his bare-handed turtle-catching techniques was posted on YouTube and went viral. After personally visiting Brown and doing some initial filming, network executives decided to produce a episode season of the series with the working title The Turtleman of Wild Kentucky.
The title was soon changed to Call of the Wildman , a reference to Brown's distinctive yell that punctuates his actions throughout the series.
The series was Animal Planet's most watched program in the fourth quarter of and was renewed for a second, episode series that began airing in June In October , Animal Planet re-released the series with bonus features and trivia information known as Call of the Wildman: Because it depicts Brown's spartan existence in the backwoods of Kentucky, some poverty advocacy groups have expressed concerns that it exploits stereotypical views of Southerners as being poorly educated, poorly groomed, and impoverished. Network executives insist, however, that they have received no negative feedback about the program.
In , the Kentucky Educational Television series Kentucky Afield devoted a portion of their weekly hunting and fishing oriented show to Brown and his turtle catching.
In November , Sharp sent a camera crew to film some of Brown's exploits. The other quarter is white man — that's a Yankee, Union — and another quarter is Confederate ". People have been calling me fake, and there ain't no fake.
Go ahead and try it! We're doing it live action. Despite his "Turtleman" nickname, Brown caught all types of nuisance animals on the show, including raccoons, skunks, snakes, venomous spiders, and possums. James serves as the secretary for Brown's business, fielding telephone calls from individuals in need of his services. A press release from Animal Planet announced that Call of the Wildman was the network's most popular show in the fourth quarter of , garnering almost , viewers, and had been renewed for a second season consisting of 16 episodes, including a special episode to air during the network's "Monster Week".
The popularity of Call of the Wildman has prompted Brown's appearance on several television programs, including two visits to The Tonight Show. Ted Ownby of the Center for the Study of Southern Culture stated that he believes producers of shows such as Call of the Wildman "build on preexisting stereotypes, so they don't need to build characters", and added that "people of the South get frustrated at the narrow range of representations [of them]".
Though it was never clearly spelled out that Turtleman became too much of a liability, the abrupt end of the show that same year pretty much speaks for itself. It's been years since the Turtleman shot new episodes of his show, but he's still a beloved figure nationwide. According to his Facebook page, the Turtleman made his first visit to Hillbilly Days in Pikeville, Kentucky where he shot a video showing himself learning how to make lemonade with one of the vendors.
It's not exactly the "live action" of him catching a beaver that's chewing away the supports of a collapsing mine , but he does do his signature yell while he's mixing the drink, so the flare is still there. He was also on hand at the Harrison County Recreation Complex in Clarksburg, West Virginia where fans lined up by the hundreds to meet the wildman. He's the same thing off camera as he is on camera, and it's exciting. I don't care about celebrities, but this dude I care about," one eager fan told The Exponent Telegram while waiting to meet him. Maybe there's still a path back to TV stardom for the Turtleman—you know, just in case the lemonade stand doesn't work out.
In fact, Earl Brown Jr. In an interview with Channel Guide Magazine , Brown talked about the origins of his nickname. I was amazed, and I said, 'Daddy, let me try,'" he said. With his claim that he's now been catching turtles this way for " nearly 40 years ," that would put his date of birth somewhere around , which is not exactly a historical time period associated with people scavenging for food in this way.
But it does explain a claim Brown casually tosses out in another interview with Syracuse. I got the famous part, but I haven't got the rich part figured out yet. I'm the poorest famous guy around. If you could tell my fans to send my stamped, self-addressed envelopes I'd appreciate it.
I try to answer each and every one. Aside from his giant knife, raccoon-tail cap, and wildman yelp, the Turtleman is also known for his dental deficiencies. Most people start correcting their oral hygiene the second they make any TV money , but not Turtleman. And sure, the natural inclination here is to think "His family was diving into ponds for dinner, there's no way they ever went to the dentist," but it seems nature didn't even have a chance to rot out those chompers, because a series of gruesome accidents did it first. The first one, a guy swung a chainsaw around and hit me in the face while we clearing some brush.
That took stitches to sew me back up. I lost a few teeth there," he recalled. I tried to gas it like the Dukes of Hazzard to get over a ditch and into a cornfield. I didn't make it over the ditch. Since this man's life has been marked with a unique and terrifying inclination towards mortal danger, it should be no surprise that a turtle almost killed him once.
He actually told Channel Guide Magazine that he's been bitten 33 times by the deceivingly docile-seeming creatures, "and every one of them hurt like heck. I almost bled to death. He kept the bite stories rolling with another example of when a snapper got him in "the place down yonder. Isn't almost dying from turtle bites hilarious, y'all?!
Controversies and goofy stories aside, the Turtleman seems to have a genuine and admirable interest in helping people. He's constantly plugging charitable causes on his Facebook page, and he even once partnered with the Wirt County Office of Emergency Services in West Virginia to hold a donation drive on behalf of the residents whose water was contaminated by chemicals leaked into the nearby Elk River. By the end of the drive, volunteers "had filled three 5-ton National Guard trucks with donations," which included "bottled water, paper products and utensils, baby wipes and other needed items for folks who've been days without usable water," according to The Herald Dispatch.
Of his decision to lend his celebrity to the cause, Turtleman told the paper, "Since I have been a little kid we never had running water and that is still the way it is today, so I know what it is like now to have no water to drink. I collect rainwater for washing but for drinking water, I have to go over to my mom's. When I seen these people in trouble and in need, I knew I had to help. I know what it's like. Because they need to be run out of the entertainment industry indefinitely.
Surprisingly, the Turtleman doesn't keep many pets.
In fact, the only domesticated animal he keeps around is his dog, Lolly, who was featured prominently on the show. But in an interview with Hollywood Soapbox , he explained there's still a good amount of wildlife in and around his house, including two cats that run mice control as well as a snake named Sir Lancelot that "just comes and goes as it pleases," but also takes care of any mice on the inside.
Sounds like he's got a significant vermin issue as well as what appears to be a wild snake who has a back door key. Oh, and we almost forgot about the turtle, because of course there's one of those. It ain't a pet. It got ran over when it was real little. It's going on five years old now. I Super-Glued it back together. He healed back and his name is Chester—a snapping turtle, Super-Glued together. That's a live action true story," he boasted. So just to recap, that's a house full of mice that two feral cats can't keep up with, a snake who crashes on the couch when he feels like it, and a Frankenturtle with an attitude.