Is it too soon to take my child hunting? On a list of topics that get frequently asked, this is at the top. My answer usually falls between " I don't know." "It depends." or simply the shrugging emoji. My reasoning for the vague question is because there is not an age that is uniform. Just like adults, all children are different.
****Note I am no expert, and I have only one child that is five, but these are a few common trends I have noticed.
The first question usually is "Have you introduced them to their food?" or where you get it. If not, I would start there. Use wild game during dinner, and explain to the child how you acquired it. Make sure when you are making these meals, you are doing kid-friendly ones like Hamburger Mac & Cheese or Burgers. These two kid cuisine staples are favorites and can be presented in a non-offensive way.
The next thing I would do is introduce the child to some outdoor media that brings some reverence to what is happening. A few great examples of this would be Meateater (Netflix Or YouTube) or Fresh Tracks with Randy Newberg (Prime or YouTube). Children often absorb information better when it is presented by someone that is not their parents.
Now, if you are going in cold to this whole situation. I may say it may be too soon. Taking a life is traumatic, for anyone let alone a child. Now, this is t
he reason why the above two are very important starting points. These points are a way to introduce death without being dark about it.
Say we have done all those items above, or you believe your child is ready. I would start with small game or fish. Those two are a lot less dramatic than taking a large animal's life. Also, there is usually not an emotional attachment to a Squirrel compared to a Deer.
We are on our first hunt, and we do get the opportunity to harvest an animal. Make sure you eat the said animal. Doing so will allow them to make a connection to the food that may not have been present prior. I would not just do this once and move on. Each harvest is always different than the next. Doing this will also allow the child to understand the process and appreciate it more. Once you feel they are comfortable with the process, move on to a large game animal.
A few annotations.
I would suggest giving it a few seasons of trial and error.
I am not the end all be all. As stated above, all children are very different.
Make this your own these are just a few items that I and others have implemented.
Let them be interested on their own. If not, they will burn out.