Ernie Brown, Jr. (aka the Turtleman) has been diving into murky Kentucky ponds in search of snapping turtles for nearly 40 years. Born and raised in Washington County, Kentucky, he spent his childhood exploring the woods and learning the ways of the animals that occupy them. Turtleman caught his first snapping turtle, a 25-pounder, when he was just seven-years-old, after his father and uncle taught him the risky technique.
Since then, the legend of Turtleman has spread throughout the Blue Grass state and has afforded Ernie a career as an animal rescuer. At the age of 17, he caught his biggest turtle to date, aptly named the "Loch Ness Turtle," a monster snapper weighing close to 55 pounds.
Ernie catches an average of 300 turtles a year and has been injured 33 times. To date, he reckons he's caught over 12,000 turtles.
Prior to devoting all of his time to rescuing and relocating wildlife, Ernie worked an array of hard labor jobs, including cutting boards for whiskey and wine barrels, milking cows and working in construction for nine years. He currently lives off the land deep in the backwoods of Kentucky with his loyal canine companion Lolly.
Neal James is Ernie's right-hand man whose long-distance telephone service also qualifies him as Turtleman's secretary.
A bona fide native Kentuckian and expert banjo player, Neal takes calls from dozens of businesses and homeowners each week in need of Ernie's help.
The duo has known each other for years and without Neal, Turtleman wouldn't be able to assist people with their critter problems. Some might say it was fate that brought Neal and Ernie together, and they've been best friends ever since.
Lolly has been Turtleman's faithful four-legged companion for over two years.
One cold winter during an ice storm, Ernie found Lolly wandering the streets, distraught and looking for shelter. After three days of trying to catch the mysterious canine, Ernie finally got close enough and invited Lolly to live with him. He didn't have much but could provide shelter, food and love.
Although Lolly's exact breed isn't known, Ernie believes she's a border collie mixed with an Australian cattle dog. Lolly is Ernie's greatest fan and best friend, even jumping into ponds to help him search for turtles