Be a good hunter the easy way in WOTLK

Patch 3.0 and WOTLK are making a lot of changes to hunters – our pets are changing, our talents are changing, the way many of our spells and shots work are changing. And we need to change with them.  

Patch 3.0 will refund all your talent points, and allow you to spend them on the new WOTLK talents.  You will have a month before WOTLK hits, and Northrend opens up, to get used to your new talents and skills.  Now is the perfect time to practice and relearn how to be a good hunter.  This article gives you some tips.

The suggestions I am going to make are not for the uber min/maxers who want to be the very top of the dps in raids or be unstoppable pvpers.  The suggestions are aimed at the more casual player, the hunter who is relatively new to raiding and still trying to find their stride, or the player who is a bit confused by all the changes and wants some guidance.  There are other ways to go, but, following these tips will help make you a good competent hunter the easy way, and someone who people should be happy to invite back to groups  (providing you don’t ninja all the maces :>) )

I have also tried to make this post easy by highlighting the need to know parts of each section.  If you don’t want to know the whys and wherefores, just follow the bolded advice.

I will continue to edit this post if I find from my experience or research that some things are better for easy mode than I have suggested.


1.  Talents

I am going to suggest a talent spec for leveling.  This is based mainly on solo and small group play, but is also perfectly OK for raiding and bgs.  It is not the min/max dps spec.  Remember we are going for competent easy mode here.

Here is the spec.  It is a 51/10/0 beastmaster spec.

What you might want to know about this spec:

  • The 10 points in Marksman are to increase your crits and to increase the damage your crits do when they happen.  These are unchanged from BC, Mortal Shots were the must-have points for anyone wanting good dps, whatever talent tree they took.  (Edit:  A good alternative would be to put 2 in Mortal shots and 3 in Careful Aim to start, and fill up Mortal shots later on)
  • My current raid spec takes Improved Aspect of the Hawk for haste and Improved Revive Pet at the bottom of the BM tree.  But here, I am suggesting Endurance Training and Thick Hide for leveling, as these will help with survivability for you and your pet.
  • Aspect Mastery is new – for 1 point you improve your aspects. As you use these all of the time it’s worth getting.
  • Animal handler has always been a must have, as it improves pet hit chance.  If you pet doesn’t hit, he can’t hold aggro.  People used to miss this one, as it was confusingly linked with mount speed.  [Edit:  Pets now share their master hit rating; if you are near the hit cap (142 hit) you don’t need these points, and can put them somewhere else – maybe 1 more in frenzy and 1 or 2 in Spirit Bond]
  • Invigoration is new – when your pets special abilities critically hit, you get some mana back.  Mana is an issue for hunters in Northrend, this helps a bit.  (Edit:  However, at the moment this doesn’t give much mana back – I have been desperate for mana so have been using it – but 2/2 in Spirit Bond would be a good alternative – or 1/2 Spirit bond and an extra point in Frenzy)
  • Serpent Swiftness is a must have – this extra haste is one of the main reasons Beastmaster hunters used to out damage other hunters on longer fights.
  • Longevity is new – it reduces the cooldown on your big red (insert pet here)
  • Kindred spirits is new and gives your pet extra damage
  • Beast mastery, the 51 point talent, is new.  This allows you to train exotic pets.  But more importantly it gives you 4 extra talent points to use for your pet.  These are even more useful at 70 than at 80.

Your next points from 71-75 should go in Frenzy 4/5 (you don’t need 5/5), longevity 3/3, and cobra strikes 3/3.  You decide from 75-80 but spirit bond (this one is good if you want to use your tenacity pet as a tank) and careful aim would be good choices.  

EDIT:  BRK posted a review of all the talents in each tree on WOW Insider this morning – see here.  He suggests a couple of slight differences to my suggestion – the main being that invigoration is not worth it, despite our mana problems, because it is limited to crits on pets special abilities not all attacks.  I have to say he may be right – however, I have been so desperate for mana in the Beta, that I am still probably going to take it.  Here’s hoping they buff it a bit in future.  He doesn’t mention the hit on animal handler, that’s because he is assuming most of his readers are near the hit cap.  I am talking to casual raiders, so I am assuming many of you are not.

2.  Pet

Ok so now your talents are sorted, what about a pet?  I am going to recommend four of each pet type – tenacity, cunning and ferocity.  You might want to experiment with them and see which you prefer.  If you are doing a lot of soloing, or playing in small groups with no tanking class, I suggest a tenacity pet.  If you are very keen to still have high dps and want to raid sometimes while leveling, go for a ferocity pet.  But don’t ignore the cunning pets, they are a nice compromise with some nice skills. 

Recommended good-easy tenacity pets: Bear (best), Boar, Turtle, Crab.

Recommended good-easy ferocity pets:  Moth (best), Hyena, Wolf, Wasp

Recommended good-easy cunning pets:  Chimera (best), Bird of Prey, Nether Ray, Wind Serpent

OK, you can get an exotic corehound, devilsaur, or worm if you really want.  They are good pets.  I just think the bear and the moth are better easy mode pets.  I am also going to list some pets I don’t recommend for easy mode.  This is because these pets either have AoE family abilities, and will pull additional mobs (including yellow neutral mobs – think the murlocs near the nagas if you have ever been to Quel’Danas or the scarabs in Zul’Farak), or because they put a damage over time DOT on the mob, making it harder to freeze trap.  (Remember – easy mode – many of these are very good pets in ‘slightly less easy mode’):

Pets which aren’t recommended for super easy mode:  

Tenacity:  Rhino (rhino bowling is fun, but will get you into trouble), Gorilla (ditto), Scorpion (10 sec DoT)

Ferocity:  Carrion bird (AoE screech), Cat (9 sec DoT if Rake is turned on), Raptor (15 sec DoT)

Cunning:  Serpent (8 sec AoE)

*Edit: If you want to keep your cat, but are having trouble with him breaking freezing traps becuase of the DoT left by rake, turn off rake – I did some rudimentary testing and the cat’s dps (with rake) seems to still be of the highest.

Talent spec for your tenacity pet here

Talent spec for your ferocity pet here  (I like call of the wild but not for easy mode)

Talent spec for your cunning pet here

(I get impatient with pets who can’t move fast; plus I think it helps when switching targets. So I tend to take the movement enhancing talents.  If you want to swap these for stamina instead that’s a good choice too.)

The cunning pet talent tree isn’t as suitable for easy mode as the others, as there are a couple of talents you need to control.  You don’t want him to spam Carrion Feeder and Roar of Recovery (the mana regen one), you want to decide when to use those.

Note on Cower:  Its bad and its bugged – put it on your pets active toolbar, and turn it off.  It’s the only way to stop him dumping aggro onto you.

Your pet toolbar only has 4 spaces still at the moment.  You don’t need to put things on there you want your pet to autocast, just leave them turned on in your spell book and he will autocast them.  Put Cower in one space and turn it off.  If you have any special skills you want to control (like Carrion Feeder), either put them on your pet toolbar, turned off, and click when you want to use them (you can use the default key bindings for the pet toolbar too), or make a macro to put them on your own toolbars. 

Can you level with more than one pet?  Yes, probably.  Pets leveling speed has been improved, but they still don’t get experience from quests, or rested exp, so it might still be hard to keep 2 or more pets abreast with you.

Managing your pet

The way pets attack has changed a bit.  Previously, when a pet was on defensive mode it would only attack something that was doing damage to you or it.  Now it will run at something you are shooting at (not good if you want to pull something into a trap).  So best to keep it on passive most of the time.

3.  Gear

The suggestions for gear are the same as ever – stack agility, attack power, hit rating, intellect and stamina.  Some crit and haste rating are also nice (you will see more haste on Northrend gear).  Keep a balance of these stats, but agility and attack power should be your favorites.  Avoid strength and spirit gear. Get a good ranged weapon, keep looking for an upgrade.   You are not a melee class. If you spend all your time hitting your target with you axe, then you’re doing it wrong. That’s why hunter have pets – to keep your target at range. For your melee weapon(s) look for the stats above, which will contribute to your overall dps from your ranged weapon. (And if you enchant your weapon, go for something that enhances these stats as well.  Enchants that proc off melee hits won’t be proccing if you’re playing your class right).

4.  Play style

Ok. We have our spec, our gear, and our new pet all specced out.  Now what?

a.  Aspects

Hunters usually have an aspect on at all times – Aspect of the Hawk increases your attack power; Aspect of the Cheetah your speed (but stuns you if you get hit); Aspect of the Viper increases your mana regeneration; etc.  Aspects, especially Aspect of the Viper have changed a little bit.

Have Aspect of the Hawk active at all times during combat.  When you run low on mana, switch to Aspect of the Viper, while you shoot away to regenerate mana.  When your mana is back, switch back to Aspect of the Hawk.  

Note: Blizzard are still messing around with Aspect of the Viper, but it currently regenerates your mana much quicker than it used to, but at a cost – you must be shooting at something, and you do less damage while it is on.  Therefore, there is no point in having it on between fights, and no point in keeping it on all the time during fights, you will only be hurting your dps.

b.  Mana

You are probably going to run out of mana more if you don’t manage it.  Also, currently there is something called Potion Sickness, which means you can only take one health or mana potion per fight.  You need to get used to using Aspect of the Viper and treat it like a Mage’s Evocation or Druid’s Innervate.  Intellect on gear also becomes much more important than before.


c.  Shots

The way Auto-Shot works is changing.  Now, it will automatically fire in between your other shots, and will not interfere with your other shots.  Previously, hunters who wanted to maximize their dps were concerned about weaving shots in between Auto-Shot and ‘shot clipping’, where if you got your timing wrong you would delay or interrupt your auto-shot and reduce your dps.  To get around that, a lot of hunters, used shot rotation macros.  The changes mean things are a whole lot easier.  There is no need to use a shot rotation macro.

To achieve decent dps all you need to do is keep hitting Steady Shot each time it is off cool down.  The game will automatically weave Auto-Shots between your Steady Shots.

To keep it simple, to be mana efficient, and to be able to concentrate on more than just your shot roations, don’t worry about weaving in other shots like Arcane, Multi, or Aimed Shot – just stick with Steady Shot.  

If you want to throw in some more damage on a longer fight, keep Serpent Sting up on the mob.  It got a buff making it more useful, but don’t spam it, it lasts for 15 secs, so just reapply it when the debuff icon on the mob shows its about to run out.  Also, if you need to Freeze Trap the mob, remember you need to replace it with Scorpid Sting  before you do, as it is a DOT and will break a trap.  (Scorpid Sting does no damage, and therefore doesn’t break a trap.  It cancels serpent sting, as you can only have one sting active at once.) 


OK that is it for super super easy mode.  Follow the talent spec and pet advice listed, and mainly use steady shot, and you should be fine.  

But are you ready for a little bit more?  Lets try some macros.  No, don’t run away.  Macros are easy to set up in WOW, they just replace a spell on your keyboard and make your life a whole lot easier.


4.  When you want extra dps

OK, here is our first macro.  I am going to give you a couple of macros.  These will help a lot:

To make the macro:

  1.  In your chat window type /m (this will bring up the macro window)
  2. Click the button to create a new macro
  3. Give it a name e.g. DPS
  4. Choose an icon
  5. Copy and paste the text below into the macro panel
  6. Drag the macro’s icon onto you toolbar.

Done – you are all set!

Remember you can make several permanent Action Bars shows up at once.  Just go to the Game Menu (previously called Interface Menu) and select ActionBars – check all the buttons.  Oh, if you want to hot key the buttons on the Action Bar, and hence the macro you just dragged onto one of those buttons, go to the Game Menu, scroll down the list until you find the bindings for the action bar you are interested in and choose key bindings.  

DPS macro

#showtooltip Rapid Fire

/cast Rapid Fire

/cast Bestial Wrath

/use 13

/use 14


What does it do?

Punch the button a couple of times when you want some burst high dps.  If Rapid Fire is off cool down it will start it up and you will shoot faster. If Bestial Wrath is also off cool down, you and your pet will go big and red. Use 13 and use 14 refer to your trinkets.  If you trinkets have on use procs and these are off cooldown they will also fire.  If only one thing is off cooldown, it will use that.  You may have to punch it a few times to get all the things to fire at once.  You can also add a cast Intimidation line if you wish, although I prefer to keep this separate.


5.  Pet control

Now you know how to write a macro, I am going to give you three easy ones.  Along with your Steady Shot button, two of these will be the most used buttons your press.  You can pretty much play your hunter with these three buttons:

Pet attack Macro:


/cast hunter’s mark


Assist Pet Macro:

/Assist pet

/cast Auto Shot


Pet Follow macro:

/petfollow [target=pettarget,exists]


How do these work?  Make the macros and put them on your toolbars.  I select a target, use my pet attack macro to make my pet attack it, use my assist pet macro to start shooting at my pets targets, and then once I am, I start pressing Steady Shot.  If for any reason I need to pull my pet back to me, I can hit the pet follow button quickly and he runs back.  I have all of these key bound, so I am pressing A for pet attack, B for assisting my pet, and H for pet heel.


6.  Trapping

Trapping has also changed a bit.   At level 80 you get a new Freeze Trap, called Freezing Arrow, which will help you trap casters more easily.  But until then, you are still working with your old Freezing Trap, its a bit faster to set 1second arming instead of 2seconds, but it still breaks on any damage (at one point in the Beta, you could do a bit of damage and not break it).  The bad news is that trap mastery is now higher up in the survival tree – hunters who found themselves called on to do a lot of chain trapping often sacrificed some dps to take these talents (previously called Clever Traps) and make their traps more reliable.  You won’t be able to do this now, without going full survival.  The good news is that Distracting Shot got a nice buff – it is now a taunt like ability, which will make a mob focus on you for 6 secs, so will let you draw them into your trap.


To make the most of distracting shot for trapping use another macro:

#showtooltip Distracting Shot

/Castsequence Distracting Shot



Press this twice, to pull a mob into a trap, it will make sure you don’t follow the distracting shot with an auto shot and break your own trap.

[EDIT:  Sorry the stopcasting isn’t working currently, you are still firing auto shots which could break your trap, and have to manually turn auto shot off.  I will work this one out and edit it, but Anelf is grumbling at me to coming shopping.  Edit – its working now – I changed cast to castsequence and you have to push it twice.]


7.  Survival and Aggro Management changes

Disengageused to be useless. Now it is very useful, but potentially dangerous.  If you pull aggro off your pet (or tank), hitting disengage will make you leap backwards – giving you room to maneuver (for example, so you can hit a Concussive Shot or Scatter Shot) before the mob is on top of you.  It’s dangerous because if there is a cliff behind you, you just launched yourself to your death, or if there is a group of mobs behind you may end up in the middle of them.  Its also useful in PvP, when it launches you away from the windfurying shaman grinding your bones to make his bread.


Misdirection had its cooldown reduced from 2mins to 30secs.  This is excellent news.  It will help you when soloing and when in a group.  Misdirection is learnt at level 70.  The threat caused by your next 3 attacks is redirected to the targeted raid or party member.  To misdirect select the target (your pet or your tank) you want to misdirect on to, hit your misdirect button, select the mob, then hit the three shots you want to misdirect on to your pet/tank (note these can also be volley or traps, misdirecting several mobs onto your pet).

[I usually use a misdirection macro, which speeds this up, I set the tank as my focus, and then with a push of a button I am misdirecting to either the tank if I am in a group, or my pet if I am solo, without having to select them first.  However, my misdirection macro isn’t working in the beta – if anyone does have one that works in the beta, please post it in the comments.]

Deterrence became a spell instead of a talent in the survival tree.  Put this on your tool bar, and hit it when you get into a difficult melee situation you can’t get out of.  It will help you survive.  I have even tanked Galv in AV for his last 10% of health by popping this while someone healed me.

Kill Shot – hunters get a new shot at level 71 called kill shot.  This is a finishing shot, you can use it when the mob is low on health (less than 20%), to finish him off.  It’s about a double steady shot.  Originally it had a knock back.  It now has no negative consequence.


Are you a night elf?  Shadowmeld has changed.  It is now an aggro freeze a bit like a priests fade or mages ice block.  It has a 2min cooldown and can be used in combat.  The tooltip reads, “Activate to slip into the shadows, reducing the chance for enemies to detect your presence.  Lasts until cancelled or upon moving.  Any threat is restored versus enemies still in combat upon cancellation of this effect.”  What this means is that you if pull aggro you can shadowmeld, and hopefully will (temporarily) disappear off the enemies radar.  This will give your tank or pet time to regain aggro, or your feign death time to come off cooldown.  However, it is not an aggro dump like feign death, once you un-shadowmeld your threat gets reset to its current level. So, unless the pet or tank has increased their threat over you in the mean time or you follow it with a feign death, you are still monster food and have just delayed the inevitable. 

Edit:  More Info – If you want to read a list of all the hunter changes coming up Bremm of the blog Bremm’s musings has put something together for you here.


OK, I hope this helps.  Remember, as I said, following these tips will help to make you a competent hunter with decent dps in easy mode.  It will not make you top kid on the block, nor is it intended to.  It does not go into detail about what to do in situations, like how to get out of melee or how to best use traps.  It is also only one suggestion, there will be others that work, but in this period of uncertainty, I thought some people might like a clear set of suggestions.


18 responses to “Be a good hunter the easy way in WOTLK

  1. Thank you for explaining all the parts of a Hunter’s life that will change with WotLK. I was getting especially worried that I was going to be left behind with my, how do you put it, simple strategy? Seriously though, this guide I know will really help. The talk on Talent speccing, Shots and Macros are especially handy for me. Although I have already planned my Talents it is nice to see they go along the same lines as yourself. Will be trying out those shots and macros straight away. Thanks again!

  2. Really glad it was helpful to you :>)
    Let me know if you have any problems with the macros. I tested them and had to alter a couple for the new macro code, but these should all now work.

  3. This is really helpful, thanks 🙂

    I levelled with a bear until 58 and I think I might pull him out of the stable again. My favourite tips were the ones about shadowmeld and putting your pet on passive, and the handy talent specs.

  4. Great guide,i just have to add about pet,i have my char on ptr and i dont now if that is buged(i think not) but gorila doesnt use thunder whan he have 1 moob.and moth increase 10% of ap but is only for hem,and wolf increases melee and ranged attack power by [scaled amount] for party and raid members within 45 yards of the wolf. Lasts 10 sec.

  5. Excellent for us casual hunters juuust hitting lvl 70 (hopefully) as the expansion hits! Thanks for an easy to read, Easy-mode overview without all the fancy raid-spec/arena stuff I see elsewhere.

  6. Thank you for the great write-up! I’d figured out most of it by myself already, but in a very scattered and unorganised way, so this was great.
    Also, wtb misdirect macro!! ;o)

  7. Hit cap for a level 70 hunter is 142 not 146 just so that you know it

  8. thanks for noticing the mistake Spoof. I did know that, not sure why I wrote 146 – have corrected it. But the point is if you are well below 140s take animal handler, if not skip it and use the points elsewhere.

  9. Thanks for the guide. I could not find any website(updated) on how to re-spec as a BM,MM,or a S for new patch..Good marcros, Im hoping that you would post more…Thanks!

  10. My own views on hunters is, Im switching to my rogue. They have nerfed us terrible with CD’s Nothing special about exotic pets except the noise and shaking annoys everyone. We go down in pvp by clothies wearing greens who crit in 5000 range. My dps w/o pets was in 550’s now in lower 300’s. Hunter is a leveling character only now. I personally don’t see anything good for us coming either. Good thing they gave us a 10 second dodge, we can use it right before we die.

  11. Good thing about shadowmeld is that it can completely remove you from battle – unless something walks right into you of course. I’ve used it a few times on my NE Hunter and priest ^_____^ TY for this post, very helpful

  12. Aspect of the Viper in addition to mana per shot you get 3% of your mana in regen, plus i cant see why people are still haging on to the BM Spec its so old school now. Im currently hybrid MM/SV with a stand alone stats of 938Ag 3606AP 27%Crit at level75 and 12k health, I can easily solo elite 75 mobs with 102k health

  13. oww and the hit cap needed increases per higher level so the 142 hit cap isnt relievent anymore unless you havent got WotLK ofc

  14. Samoosa (Grim Batol)

    Great article, as a BM who has till now operated fully manual. I hate doing stuff I don’t understand – (stubborn? maybe). Thanks for the well described post, I am now keen to give some macros a try.

  15. Just a question m8, do u think BM its beter then MM for 80 hunters DPSing ?

  16. This is a big question. One I will be doing some more research and a post on in the future. For me at the moment, I am only just 80 and still doing a lot more soloing, rep grinding, and questing than instancing or raiding. I therefore am happy as a Beastmaster with a gorilla pet, its an awesome combination for solo play. As I start to raid more, I may think again. Hence, the research post coming up sometime soon.

  17. Thank you very much for going about and writing this up. I had stopped playing WoW the week before BC hit, and just now started looking into it again. I may not play it now, but I still love to theorycraft for hunters.

    Though I raided many hours on my NE hunter (8/8 T2, epic bow, 2/2 grasp fists), I enjoyed AV and AB far more than any instance because of the different skill requirement.

    I must say I don’t like how hunters have turned into stationary casters due to the dependence on steady shot weaving and mana regeneration without pots or FD+drink. I have a feeling like the average pve hunter can play by mashing 1 macro now, and non-BM hunters are not as viable in pvp.

    Honestly, the changes to deterrence, shadowmeld, and pet talents seal the deal in turning me away from my potentially rejoining the world of Azeroth.

  18. I have a good misdirect macro that works well:

    /target (tanknamehere – if I have tank focused I use focus)
    /cast misdirection
    /assist target

    Now I’m not online right now so this is from memory – but it is something along these lines. It is also useful to spam even when misdirect is on CD to help you target the same target the tank is attacking.