Nichols lives at the confluence of Steer Creek
and the Little Kanawha River, "making do"
Historic farm and river life is
used to provide food and comfort
Turtle Man denies conspicuous consump-
tion, catching muskie and turtles
By Bob Weaver 2015
In modern day lingo, you might label Calhoun's Turtle Man a "back-to-lander" or a "survivalist," and those terms could apply.
64-year-old Millard Nichols of Russett (right) says, "We do live off God's creation and what nature provides," buying less and less from the marketplace. "We make do," re-purposing just about everything that most folks have long trashed.
"I do a lot of trading and selling," he said.
Nichols, who has researched his genealogy, says he is a descendant of Chief Tecumseh (1768-1813), a Native American leader of the Shawnee and a large tribal confederacy (known as Tecumseh's Confederacy) which opposed the United States during Tecumseh's War and became an ally of Britain in the War of 1812.
Nichols got the Turtle Man name years ago for his affinity catching them for meat and using their shells and bones for decorated items.
He says the meat is a real delicacy, canning and freezing them, having caught about 3,500 of the animals from the Little Kanawha to rivers and ponds in neighboring counties and even other states.
The biggest turtle he caught was 60 pounds.
Nichols keeps notebooks of his endeavors, trapping, hunting,
fishing and growing, his canning, smoking and pickling
He collected 2,047 gallons of Maple sap to make 47 gallon of Maple syrup, and tasty it is.
"One thing people don't know about is canning (not pickling) eggs. They ask about what they're going to do with all those eggs," he said, producing pint jars of canned liquid eggs.
"I have the directions, we've been using them for years."
Nichols is a big muskie fisherman, the biggest he caught was 48 inches, saying he and his wife have caught a truckload over the years. His largest mudcat, caught in the Little Kanawha, was 35 1/2" and weighed 22 pounds.
Nichols started hunting and fishing when he was less than eight, living with his family on Apple Farm (Rush Run), his parents Oral and Lucy Davison Nichols.
"I caught my first turtle when I was five," he said.
Nichols sister Shelia Meadows wrote a book about his life, "Turtle Man from Turtle Island," a fictionalized account of his life.
Nichols has appeared on the reality TV show "Mountain Monsters."
He lives on a small farm between the confluence of Steer Creek and the Little Kanawha River, a pastoral place that witnessed the passing of history along the streams.
Trapping is Turtle Man preoccupation
Early on it belonged to the Huffman family, but during the last century the 36 acres was owned by Fred Burrows. who operated boats on the Little Kanawha and once had a general store along the river on the site,
In a world of conspicuous consumption, Nichols said, "It's really hard work everyday, it's not for slackers. Somehow, the way I live seems close to the way life should be. Sometimes I even give sermons about it."
See CALHOUN'S "TURTLE MAN" APPEARING IN TV REALITY SHOW - "Mountain Monsters" Seeking Kentucky Monster
And APPLE FARM: LIKE A GOOD NEIGHBOR, THEY WERE THERE - Recollections Of Calhoun Life