Jasper boy harvests state’s biggest bird

Photos provided
Cohen Werne, who is now 7 and a first-grader at Fifth Street School, got a state-record bird on April 21 whie hunting with his dad, Brock, in northern Spencer County.


The first turkey then-6-year-old Cohen Werne of Jasper has ever shot ended up being a record-size turkey in the state.

Cohen’s bird is the biggest bird recorded by the National Wild Turkey Federation in Indiana this year, and the 17th biggest in the state’s history. The Werne family learned of the achievement Tuesday.

“He’s excited,” Cohen’s dad, Brock Werne, said this morning. “When I told him, he smiled and said, ‘Yes!’”

Cohen, who is now 7 and a first-grader at Fifth Street School, got the bird on April 21, the first day of youth turkey hunting season. It’s the first bird he had ever harvested.

Since he was 3, Cohen has tagged along as his dad went turkey hunting. “I was raised in a hunting family. I remember all the memories I’ve made with my grandpa (Albert Seger),” Brock said. “I wanted to make memories like that with him.”

Cohen is making memories, though he doesn’t call it that. “I like being with my dad” he said late this morning while on his lunch break at school.

Cohen got to hunt one day during last year’s youth turkey hunting season, though he didn’t get anything. Brock felt Cohen was ready for more hunting this past season, so he decided to take his son hunting on the first day. Brock had already set up a hunting blind in a field in northern Spencer County, where the two would sit. “I knew I’d be taking him, so looked around first, to find a spot,” Brock said. “I found one where there was bird that was coming out every day with a bunch of hens.”

The turkey's four beards totaled 36 inches, with the longest one being 11 inches. It weighed 26.25 pounds.

The morning of April 21, Brock woke his son up early. “I asked him if he wanted to go turkey hunting, and he hops out of bed,” Brock recalled. “We walked to that blind that morning, and could hear the turkey gobbling from the roost. Cohen carried one decoy, and I carried the rest.”

They set up their decoys, stationed themselves in the blind and waited. Brock would call and the turkey would respond. But when the bird flew down from his roost in the tree, he went into the woods.

The turkey stayed in there for about an hour. When he came out, he had a bunch of hens with him. Cohen and Brock waited for another hour, until finally the turkey approached one of the decoys. That’s when Brock told Cohen to shoot at the bird. Cohen’s shotgun was resting on a shooting stick.

“He did not pull the trigger right away,” Brock remembered. “I said, ‘Hey buddy, you need to shoot.’ But he still didn’t.”

After a third time of coaxing, Cohen shot.

“I saw it go down,” Cohen said. “I was excited. I tried getting out of my tent, but I couldn’t find the zipper.”

Once he did, he ran out to the field to claim his prize.

“I thought he missed. Turkeys flew everywhere,” Brock said. “But he was yelling that he got it. He ran out to that bird hooping and hollering.”

Brock caught up with Cohen and saw that he did, in fact, get the turkey.

“The bird had four beards, which I’d never seen in my life,” Brock said. “I’ve only seen one with one beard. So I knew this was a special bird.”

The NWTF noted how special the bird was. On Tuesday, Brock was told that the turkey was the biggest show in Indiana for the 2018 season and the 17th biggest in the state’s history. The four beards totaled 36 inches, with the longest one being 11 inches. The federation also measured the bird’s weight: 26.25 pounds.

Cohen received a certificate of his achievement Wednesday. He will also get the turkey as a surprise Christmas present; it is now at the taxidermist, being mounted.

Brock and Jessica, the boy’s mom, are proud of Cohen’s achievement. Brock added that he’s glad his son has taken an interest in turkey hunting, just like he did as a kid when he hunted with grandpa Albert.

“This is much better than staying in the house playing Gameboy and video games,” Brock said. “I want my sons to go outside, to hunt and fish, things like that.”

Brock took his other son, 3-year-old Grier, with him for the first time this year, just like he did Cohen. Grier was not with the two when Cohen shot his turkey, however. “He’s too loud,” Brock said.

After checking out the turkey in April, Brock told his son, “You’ll likely never shoot one this big again.”

Cohen assured his father, “Well, daddy, next year, I’ll shoot one with five beards.”

This morning, he tone was different. When asked about bagging another turkey, he said, “I dunno. I hope so.”

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