I was 3 1/2 my first deer hunt. Like a previous poster said we hunted in a big family group(DWR DO YOU REMEMBER WHAT THAT WAS LIKE?) Had older grandpa and uncles that didn't mind hanging around the second day when i was tired out. Haven't missed a deer hunt in 36 years because of that good first experience.
Started my son at 4, did a lot of road hunting and "sitting on point", but so what, I have killed a lot of deer, "wasting" one year was worth it. At 5 he started following me through the forest, I am 6'5, so I really had to be aware of his 3 steps to my one and leave a lot of time for "glassing". We carry walkie talkies, and he got a real kick out of listening to us talk back and forth. Again we still hunt together as a group of family and friends, most of whom I have been with for my 36yrs of hunting, and we all enjoy "breaking" a new hunter so he has had a ball.
Last season, he was 7 was his first elk hunt. Told him he could come no matter what, and we really lucked out with the weather, first elk hunt we haven't been near 0 with a foot or more snow on the ground. That littl guy stayed right on my azz up hill through the thick stuff for 3 days until I had to take him off to go back to school(apparently they frown on missing a week for the muzzleloader, then the next week for elk). Of course the next morning while he was at school the first meadow I hit has a 5 point in it, but thats hunting I guess!
We hunted waterfowl 30-40 days last season, he missed only one. He is a dengenerate like his dad now, wears too much camo, talks about guns all the time, etc, etc.
He got a Browing BPS 12 guage his first b-day(mom got it for years of service), still never shot just waiting for him. He has a crossman pellet gun, last year he got a 10/22 breakdown, and somehow he has decided to "take over" my .17 hmr(I didn't even know it was up for takeover).
I was an older dad(33) when he was born, in some things that sucks, he's 7 and dad is pushing 40 so energy wise he loses out some, but because of that he gets a lot more patient, experienced hunting partner. I think that is the biggest key, you have to be willing to not get to the spot, not kill that deer, not be quiet for a while, but its WELL WORTH it in the end.
Now I have 2 yr old twins that will soon be "ruining" my hunts, and I can't wait to have 3 facepainted kids out in the swamp!!!
"The only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun"