Kentucky man hopes to gain fame as "Turtle Man"
There are people who collect stamps, coins and even butterflies. But we met a Central Kentucky character who turned out to be one of my favorite collectibles ever, in Bernson's Corner.
Neil James sings a song, "God made Adam, and God made Eve. He must have had something up his sleeve. Just to have fun, maybe more'n you can stand, God created the Turtle Man."
This is how Ernie Brown Junior gets ready for a day of hunting Chelydra serpentina -- snapping turtles. The Turtle Man loves to go into farm ponds to stalk the ferocious, primitive beasts and drag them out of the mud -- using nothing but his bare hands.
Brown says, "As you can see, they got a very vicious mouth. They can bite you -- they eat fish and frogs. As you can see, they can just rip right through it. Don't want my finger in there!
Mr. Brown is a sawmill worker from Lebanon Kentucky who's been doing this since the age of seven. His fans gather to watch him -- some wearing T-shirts in his honor. We put a helmet camera on Ernie's head to capture the up-close action in this Lincoln County pond -- but there wasn't much action in an hour, except a few harmless red-eared sliders.
Well, Turtle Man says there are no turtles in that pond or he'd have caught 'em by now. So it's on to the next pond. But that's why they call it turtle hunting and not turtle catching."
Could there be snappers... in this algae-covered, cat-tail-choked, stagnant mudhole?
Brown explains, "When I'm on the bank like this, I use my hand, kind of scoop around like that. Out in there, I gotta use my feet -- kick out -- that way you scare him out in the middle."
He flicks the water. He seems to turn on his mental radar to find "snappers." And within minutes, he's got another.
Brown showed off his catch, "Yeah, I got a good 'un here, pretty nice one. Probably weighs about 20 pounds. Got a little tug o' war here. That's how you do it on the Ernie Brown Show!"
Once Ernie spent two days dragging more than 60 snapping turtles out of a single pond. He says he wants to become famous doing this -- appearing at outdoor shows with his captures. Afterwards he'll release the turtles -- first carving his initials on their backs.
Mr. Brown has his own website -- which now features... a rap song written by a couple of fans.
The song goes a little something like this:
"Next time you're out in the country and hear that rebel yell, better come a-running -- you don't want to miss the Turtle Man."
Mr. Brown says in his life, he has been bitten 26 times by snapping turtles.
And if you'd like to see more of the Turtle Man's exploits, go to www.turtle-man.com