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The Hunter Leveling Guide for Shadowlands

Pandaren Hunter
A Pandaren Hunter with his turtle attack pet.

Hunters are about the fastest and easiest leveling class in the entire game. Why would this be? Because they have an unbeatable solo capability due to an unmatched rapport with their pets. As Blizzard says, in the character creation screen, “Good at leveling and soloing.”

They’re pretty good at everything else, too. Leveling, PvP, and Raiding, the Hunter does it all well. This is all tied to their massive and consistent DPS and excellent flexibility.

None of this has changed with all the various expansions, though the exact feel changes a bit.

Also, Hunters are perhaps the least gear dependent of all classes. Of course, decent gear will make your leveling that much easier, but it’s not required. Heck, you can even go naked if you like, though I don’t recommend doing that with War Mode turned on…

In the dungeons Hunters can generate a lot of DPS (Damage per Second.) With good choices in gear and some practice they can top the damage charts.

In PvP, Hunters take just a bit more work. Having an easy time leveling makes one relax a bit too much, perhaps, and PvP can be a wake up call. Hunters do very well in PvP though, and there are a number of very highly ranked Arena Hunters.

Hunter Leveling Guide: Contents

This page:

Other Hunter Guides

Shadowlands has introduced a level squish, dropping max level from 120 in BFA to 50!  And, as you know, the cap is now 60. Leveling through the lower zones will take you to 50 max and should be much faster then in the past. (And Zygor will be ready.) Here is a detailed list of the Shadowlands changes and here are the class changes (click the Hunter tab there for specific Hunter details.)

Mostly it’s abilities being shifted around, some are now common to all Hunters. (All of the Hunter abilities are listed below.) One of the most essential changes is that you can now have 200 pets in your stable (it was a measly 60 before…)

Battle For Azeroth (BFA) took your Artifact abilities from Legion and moved them into your regular talents or Azerite abilities. War Mode lets you turn any server into a PvP server, or turn off World PvP entirely. Lots of abilities were tweaked and so were your pets. Also, there was another item squish.

Legion doesn’t change an mechanics, but it does kill off a few abilities, add new ones, and tweak the specializations (specs) to create a different feel for each. For example, Marksmanship can go petless starting at 15 (talent) and Survival is now the only spec that can use traps. The official change notes for Hunters are here.

Warlords of Draenor didn’t change mechanics or introduce new ones. Playstyle is essentially the same as before. Other than adding the new talents, a few tweaks, and some (Ok, a lot of) ability cleanup, you’ll be pretty much the same Hunter as before. Here are all the changes for Hunters in WoD.

WoD Patch 6.2 changes nothing for the leveling experience. You can see the 6.2 changes here, and all of the official patch notes here. Later patches are mostly bug fixes.

Note that we’re not going to go into “flavor of the month” details, since that flavor will be different next week.

Like this page? Did we leave something out, miss anything or get it wrong? Leave a comment at the bottom of the page.


Brief Hunter Leveling Notes

This is the short version of the guide, just hitting the main points. More detail is further down.

Best Race: It doesn’t matter much, just pick the one the looks and feels right.

  • Pandaran: Better rest XP will speed up leveling
  • All races have something that adds to DPS/Damage. Draenei (Agility bonus,) Orcs (Blood Fury,) and Trolls (Berserking) might be “best” from a damage standpoint.
  • For PVP: Humans and Undead have useful escapes and both have a racial that adds a bit of damage. Orcs and trolls have a nice damage burst and useful resistances.
  • More about races

The spec:

  • Beast Mastery (BM) – You and your pet make a great team. Generally BM is the easiest spec for all players, though the other two ain’t bad at all.
  • Markmanship (MM) – Your pet is more of an accessory and, in Legion, you can drop it completely at level 15 (talent) and get a nice damage bonus. More challenging than BM, but can level just about as fast. You will have to learn to “kite” more effectively than BM.
  • Survival (Surv) – Your pet is an accessory and you specialize in controlling the opposition with your trap arsenal. In Legion you are the only Hunter spec with traps.
  • If you need to blast to the level cap as fast as possible then check out our favorite leveling guide.
Blast to the Cap in Shadowlands!
Blast to the Cap in Shadowlands!
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Ferocity pets do more damage, Tenacity pets are better tanks, Cunning pets have special abilities, such as webs.

  • Pets come as either one or the other type. You used to be able to switch specs (your Bear couild become “Cunning,”) but no longer.
  • Pick a Ferocity pet for the damage and if you’re not worried about it being a good tank.
  • Tenacity pets, such as Bears, are generally better tanks and will allow you to gather groups and burn them down.
  • More about pets

Gear and Stats

  • Stamina – Get enough to survive, especially at low level.
  • Agility is is far and away your best stat, for all Hunter specs.
  • Get mail armor at 40 and stick with it. You get more agility at 50 if all your armor is mail.
  • Weapon: Get the highest DPS weapon available, preferably with Agility.
  • Use ranged weapons only, unless you’re Survival. There is no minimum range for your ranged attacks, so you won’t need melee weapons. Yes, you can be nose to nose with the enemy and still shoot ’em.
  • More stats

Gems and Enchants

Skip these while leveling, since you’ll be out of that gear very soon. In BFA you can add the top level enchants to your level 1 items. See our gold guide if you need the gold to do that.

  • Gem for Agility, or your best stat. In BFA the top Agility gems are Unique, so you only get one.
  • More gems


  • Pick any two: Mining or Herbalism. Why? because they give nice XP and you’ll level a bit faster and have something to use or sell.
  • Skip the crafting professions, they’re expensive and will slow you down.
  • More about professions

Click here to Get Leveled Faster


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Hunter Races

Hmmm... Time for lunch...With Cataclysm everyone but Gnomes were allowed into the Hunter crowd. Probably because they were too busy repairing their city or they’re too short to use a bow (how about a Gnomish X4500GT Zarkomatic blaster rifle? It only rarely explodes…)

In BFA, and probably forever after, every race can be a Hunter.

The best racial choice for a Hunter is one that you enjoy playing. It doesn’t matter if one race has no special abilities if you like playing that race more than others. None of the racial abilities make that much of a difference and they are all greatly overshadowed by your skill as a player.

If you plan on being “the best” Hunter in raids or PvP then you should pay attention to race. Note that your personal skills will be far more important.

    • Best PvP? Humans for the escape and slightly better stats, Orcs for the burst and the stun resist.
    • Other Alliance PvP? Dark Iron Dwarf (stat buff,) Dwarf (Stoneform,) Gnome (snare escape, more focus.)
    • Other Horde PvP? Orc (Blood Fury, stun resist,) Blood Elf (Debuff,) Troll (Berserking, snare resist.)
    • Best PvE: All bring something to the game. Play whichever works for you.

All of the “allied races” start at level 10. To play them you will need to complete a certain achievement with that race and run a quest line starting from the Orgrimmar or Stormwind embassy. Links to those achievements are in the individual racial descriptions, below.


The only Neutral race, at least at the start. You get to choose whether your will join the Horde or the Alliance, once you leave the starting area.

    • Your Inner Peace gives you improved Rest XP, making for faster leveling.
    • Being Bouncy you take less falling damage, which can be useful. Cliff jumping anyone?
    • Pandarens can, with a quick strike of their Quaking Palm , stun an opponent for 4 seconds. It makes it a bit easier to Disengage.
    • Pandarens get 100% better buffs from food with their Epicurean ability. You get, for example, +100 stat instead of +50.
    • Naturally you’re good with cooking, so you have an enhanced (+15) cooking ability.
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Alliance Racials


    • Your Every Man for Himself ability removes all stun effects (no other effects are removed,) so is something like a partial PvP trinket. This effect shares a 90 sec cooldown with other similar effects.
    • The Human Spirit : You gain 2% more of all secondary stats (Haste, Critical Strike, Mastery, Versatility) from all sources.
    • And since you are skilled at Diplomacy you have a 10% faster rep gain with everyone than does any other race. Useful at times, especially if you want the perks that come from “Exalted,” such as access to the various allied races. This is rather nice if you’re rep grinding, such as trying to earn a flying ability in some zone or access to the allied races.
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Kul Tiran– Starts at level 20. 

    • Wind up, then unleash your mighty Haymaker upon your foe. Doesn’t hurt much, but does stun then for 3 seconds and knocks them back substantially.  2.5 minute cooldown. Knock ’em back, gain distance, kill them.
    • Brush It Off – Increases Versatility by 1%. When you take damage you sometimes heal for 2% of that damage over 4 sec.
    • Your Child of the Sea ability lets you swim a bit faster and hold your breath longer than anyone who is not Undead.
    • You are a Jack of All Trades  which increases all of your personal Tradeskills by 5.
    • Many generations of seafaring experience have earned you the Rime of the Ancient Mariner ability, and so you take 1% less from Frost and Nature damage.
    • achievements to earn Kul Tiran: A Nation United and Tides of Vengeance

Night Elf

    • Shadowmeld : 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. Against certain spells, if you have really good timing, you can S’meld after it’s cast and thus dodge it. Can also lurk in wait and then ambush unsuspecting Horde…
    • A bit more Dodge and movement speed (2% of each,) via your Quickness .
    • Touch of Elune gives you a bit more (1%) Crit by day and Haste by night.
    • Transform into a  Wisp Spirit  upon death, increasing speed by 75%. Hopefully you will only rarely have any use for this trait.

Void Elf– Starts at level 20. 

    • Your abilities have a chance to empower you with the essence of the Void, Entropic Embrace , which increases your damage by 5% for 12 sec. It has a 33% proc chance with 60 seconds internal cooldown. Nothing like a bit of Void energy added to your attacks, right?
    • Spatial Rift : Tear a rift in space. Reactivate this ability to teleport through the rift. 30 yd range. 3 min cooldown. You can activate this, then change direction, hit it again, and be back to the original spot. Practice this to get a good idea of how it works.
    • The achievement to earn Void Elf: You Are Now Prepared!


Winners of the interstellar bodybuilding contests. All of them.

Lightforged Draenei– Starts at level 20. 

    • Your passion for killing demons ( Demonbane ) is reflected in your earning an extra 20% experience from that action. Obviously not much use once your are at max level.
    • You have two area effect attacks, Light’s Judgment and Light’s Reckoning . The former lets you call down a strike onto enemies close to you, with a three second delay. Reckoning causes you to unleash the Light upon dying, damaging enemies within 8 yards and healing any allies for the same amount.
    • Not only do you get +10% to your Blacksmithing skill, you can summon a Forge of Light.
    • Naturally you are a bit more resistant to holy damage than others, taking 1% less damage from the stuff with your Holy Resistance .
    • the achievement to earn Lightforged Draenei: You Are Now Prepared!


    • Your Might of the Mountain ability increases the damage and healing from your critical strikes by 2%
    • and you can become one with the stone via your Stoneform . This removes all poison, disease, curse, magic, and bleed effects and reduces all physical damage taken by 10% for 8 sec. Cooldown is 2 minutes. Nice “Yikes!” ability.
    • You are also an Explorer and so are better at Archaeology than others.
    • Being naturally cool, you have a bit (1%) of Frost Resistance .

Dark Iron Dwarf – Starts at level 20.

    • Your Fireblood removes all poison, disease, curse, magic, and bleed effects, just like your Dwarven “brethren,” but your ability, instead of reducing damage, increases your primary stat (Agility) by 600 (scales with level) +200 for for each additional effect removed. Lasts 8 sec. with a 2 min cooldown.
    • You’re a tunnel dweller and Dungeon Delver and you’ve learned how to move 4% faster while indoors, plus your people have the  Mole Machine : While out doors you can summon a Mole Machine that tunnels through the earth and can pop you up in a variety of places.
    • Being tough you have your Forged in Flames ability, and take a bit less physical damage.
    • Having spent your life working in the forges you have a Mass Production skill , giving you +5 to your blacksmithing skill and letting you work 25% faster.
    • the achievement to earn Dark Iron Dwarf: Ready for War


    • Your Escape Artist ability allows you to break the effects of any immobilization or movement speed reduction effect, but not stuns. Great for PvP, occasionally useful elsewhere. Every one minute.
    • Plus your Nimble Fingers give you a +1% Haste boost.
    • Your Expansive Mind increases your “resource (Focus) by 5%.
    • And your Engineering Specialization gives you +15% to that skill.
    • You also have a bit of Arcane Resistance , and so take 1% less damage from the stuff.

Mechagnome– Starts at level 20. 

    • Hyper Organic Light Originator summons a couple of images of you to distract your foes. Added damage or use it to give yourself a moment to set something up. See it in action here .
    • And you get some Racial Passives:
      • Combat Analysis : You gather and analyze combat data every 5 sec, increasing your Agility by 25, stacking up to 10 times. The data decays while out of combat.
      • Mastercraft : You function as a personal Blacksmithing Anvil, Cooking Fire, and Mining Forge. In addition, your limbs include every profession tool.
      • Emergency Failsafe : When you fall below 20% health, heal for 15% of your maximum health. This effect cannot occur more than once every 2.5 min.
      • Skeleton Pinkie : Allows opening of locked chests and doors at your current level x 5, so at level 100 you can unlock chests that require 500 skill.
    • the achievement to earn Mechagnome: The Mechagonian Threat


    • Your Altered Form allows you to switch between your human and Worgen forms and your Two Forms lets you turn into your currently inactive form.
    • Then your Darkflight activates your true form, increasing current movement speed by an additional 40% for 10 sec. Always nice to have an extra Sprint.
    • You also have your Running Wild ability, where you drop to all fours to run as fast as a wild animal.
    • Flayer  increases your Skinning skill by 15 and allows you to skin faster.
    • And your inate Viciousness  increases critical strike chance by 1%.

The Horde Racials:


    • Enrage ( Blood Fury ) to increase all of your damage (increased Attack Power) every 2 min. Lasts 15 seconds. A very useful cooldown.
    • Your Hardiness makes you resistant to stuns (20% shorter duration, about 1 second off a 5 second stun) – Useful in PvP, but also nice at times while leveling/raiding.
    • If your have a pet then your Command ability gives that pet 1% more damage.
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    • Your mighty Endurance gives you an increase to base health, which scales with level.
    • Also useful is War Stomp , usually a PvP ability, that gives Taurens a useful short range AoE stun. This can also interrupt trash mobs when dungeoning/raiding, allowing an easier escape.
    • Your massive size, your sheer Brawn power, gives you 2% added Crit damage (not crit chance.)  It also give that same 2% bonus to and healing abilities you have.
    • Tauren are good with Herbalism and have +15% skill.
    • You also have a bit of Nature Resistance , taking 1% less Nature Damage.

HighMountain Tauren– Starts at level 20. 

    • Bull Rush is a charge forward that knocks down any enemies in your path. It’s a fast move and a decently long charge. Can be used as a burst movement. MIght be useful in certain situations…
    • Being versatile you get +1% Versatility ( Mountaineer ) and you also take a bit less damage ( Rugged Tenacity .) Both are nice passives for anyone.
    • Your Pride of Ironhorn allows you to mine faster and adds 15% to your mining skill.
    • Having gone to survival school your philosophy is Waste Not, Want Not , so you have a chance to gather more meat and fish from appropriate situations.
    • the achievement to earn Highmountain Tauren: Ain’t No Mountain High Enough


    • Berserking increases your Haste by 10% for 12 seconds, one a 3 minute cooldown.  Generally useful for hunters, since it reduces cooldowns and gives you faster resource regeneration.
    • You get a 20% XP increase when Beast Slaying . This only applies to beasts, not humanoids or other non-beasts. You’ll be chopping up lots of beasts while leveling, so this is a nice bonus. Not useful once at max level.
    • Da Voodoo Shuffle gives you a nice 20% reduced duration of movement impairing effects, such as snares, slows, etc. Not stuns or anything else.
    • Regeneration Mon! Trolls regenerate 10% faster than others and can even regenerate a bit while in combat, not that you are likely to notice.

Zandalari Troll– Starts at level 20. 

    • Your Embrace of the Loa ability allows you to choose which Loa you are associated with. Has a 5 day cooldown. Each embrace also lasts through death.
      • Embrace of Kimbul  – Your damaging abilities have a chance to cause the target to bleed over 6s. This effect stacks up to 3 times. Bleeds are always good, especially against Rogues and Druids.
      • Embrace of Bwonsamdi  – Your damaging abilities have a chance to deal Shadow damage and heal you for 100% of the damage done. Pretty good general ability for tanks and damage dealers.
      • Embrace of Pa’ku – Your abilities have a chance to grant you +4% critical strike for 12 seconds. Live by the crit? This is for you. This is your default Loa.
      • Embrace of Akunda – Your healing abilities have a chance to heal their target for some extra points. Good for anyone with a ranged heal.
      • Embrace of Gonk  – Increase movement speed by 5%.
      • Embrace of Krag’wa  – Taking damage has a chance to grant you additional Health and 66 Armor. Good tanking ability.
    • Regeneratin’ – Regenerate 100% of your maximum health over 6 sec, interrupted by damage. 2.5 min cooldown.
    • Pterrordax Swoop – Slows your fall for two minutes. Time for some serious cliff jumpin’.
    • Your also have your City of Gold ability, making you the envy of Goblins, since it lets you loot an extra 2% gold from your targets.
    • achievements to earn Zandalari Troll: Zandalar Forever! and Tides of Vengeance

Blood Elf

    • Your Arcane Torrent removes one beneficial effect from any nearby enemies (8 yards) and restores some or your resource (Focus.) In a crowd? Fire away and then escape.
    • And your Arcane Acuity gives you a bit more crit (1%.)
    • Naturally your Arcane Affinity gives you +10% to the Enchanting skill.
    • And your Arcane Resistance allows you to take 1% less Arcane damage.


    • Your Will of the Forsaken removes fear, sleep, and charms. Definitely useful in PvP and of occasional use elsewhere. It also allows indefinite underwater breathing.
    • Your Touch of the Grave is a passive ability that will add a small amount to your overall damage and self-healing.
    • Cannibalize is a nice “in your face” ability for PvP and eliminates the need to use a bag slot for regular food (you’ll want to keep any foods that provide buffs.) Just go full zombie mode and eat what you kill. Humanoids only. Restores 35% of total health over 10 seconds.
    • You also have a bit of Shadow Resistance , taking 1% less damage from those shadows.
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    • Can Rocket Jump forward and away from, or into, stuff. so is a bit like the your ability disengage. Note that any effects the slow falling will be suppressed for 10 seconds. So no Rocket Jumps off cliffs. The fall is fine, the impact at the end hurts.
    • Speaking of rockets… Rocket Barrage !!! The perfect Goblin ability. Can launch rockets at enemies. Damage is trivial, but you can probably find a use for it. Wait, you’re a Hunter. Maybe not.
    • A bit more Haste, Time is Money ya know.
    • Being an expert negotiator, of course, you receive the Best Deals Anywhere . You pay whatever the minimum price is for stuff, regardless of faction.
    • Your relentless urge to try “Crazy New Things” gives you the Better Living Through Chemistry ability, which adds +15 to your Alchemy skills.
    • Check your bank stash from anywhere, every 30 min, with your pack Hobgoblin . A truly deadly ability.

Nightbourne– Starts at level 20. 

    • You can do an Arcane Pulse , which damages all nearby enemies and reduces their speed for 12 seconds, allowing an easier escape. Note that this will break most “crowd control” effects you might have on those enemies. 3 minute cooldown.
    • Can read your mail from anywhere, with your Cantrips ability. Get a note while you’re in the middle of nowhere? No problem.
    • Your love of lore and Ancient History give you +15 to your Inscription skill.
    • Your Arcane Resistance   allows you to take 1% less damage from Arcane energy and you also have a Magical Affinity which allows you to do 1% more magical damage.
    • the achievement to earn Nightborne: Insurrection

Mag’har Orc – Starts at level 20.

    • Your Ancestral Call will boost a random secondary stat (crit, haste, versatility) for 12 seconds on a 2 minute cooldown. The boost scales with level.
    • Your love of the open skies increases your mounted speed by 10%.
    • Your Savage Blood reduces the duration of curses, poisons, and diseases (by 10%.)
    • Your pet receives a 10% health boost through your Sympathetic Vigor .
    • the achievement to earn Mag’har Orc: Ready for War

Vulpera – Starts at level 20. 

    • Level Fast, even in Shadowlands!
      Blast to the level cap, Click Here

      Bag of Tricks : Cunning thing that you are you can use a trick on an enemy to damage them or on an ally to heal them. You can rummage your bag to change tricks. Your bag can eventually have a few additional Tricks, for example:

    • Make Camp : Set your camp location outdoors and then you can use  Return to Camp , which teleports back to your camp location. Basically another hearthstone.
    • Nose For Trouble : Take a little less damage from the first strike inflicted by an enemy and due to your being wary around fire, your Fire Resistance reduces fire damage taken by 1%.
    • Your  Alpaca Saddlebags  increase the total size of your backpack by 8 slots.
    • the achievement to earn Vulpera: Secrets in the Sands

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Hunter Leveling Talents

Worgen Marksman HunterFor hunters the Beast Mastery (BM) spec is the best for straight leveling speed. It gives few buffs to the hunter himself, although they are there, but mainly it turns the pet into a war machine and allows that pet, alone, to handle multiple opponents (not so much in dungeons or PvP) at a time. The pet gathers the mobs and the Hunter “guns” them down. In fact, there are a few Hunters who tank 5 man dungeons with their pets.

BM is also the most forgiving for newer players.

However, the primary way which this aids leveling is not entirely on how much damage the pet deals, but rather that the pet holds aggro well enough to act as a reliable and durable tank. This is why the BM Hunter needs little in the way of gear, though obviously better gear always helps.

  • Beast Mastery (BM) – You and your pet make a great team. Generally BM is the easiest spec for all players, though the other two ain’t bad at all.
  • Markmanship (MM) – Your pet is more of an accessory and, at level 24, your Lone Wolf allows you to operate without a pet and get a 10% damage bonus. More challenging than BM, but can level just about as fast. You will have to learn to “kite” (run and “gun”) more effectively than BM.
  • Survival (Surv) – Your pet is an accessory and you specialize in controlling the opposition with your trap arsenal. In Shadowlands your traps are a bit more versatile than the other specs.

This combined aspect of both Hunter and pet dealing high damage and the hunter being capable of healing the pet quite easily makes the Hunter about the fastest leveling machine of them all.

Note: While the Beastmastery Specialization is the fastest leveling tree this doesn’t mean that you can’t have a satisfying experience with any other build. (And if you really want to level fast then check out a good leveling guide.)

Shadowlands Covenant Talents are not covered on this page.

The talent picks here should give you a nice margin of survivability and allow you to level quickly and easily. You might want to change them up depending on your gear, your team, if PvPing or dungeoning or whatever.

Talents can be easily changed, just go to any “rested XP” area, such as an Inn or the city and change what you like. You can also use tome of the Quiet Mind, up to lev. 59 (or Still Mind, after 51,) and change talents anywhere that you are out of combat.

Your “Spec” can be changed anytime when you are out of combat. Do one fight as BM, the next as Marks, then hit a BG as Survival.


Beastmastery Hunter Leveling Build

You should go with Beastmastery (BM) as a leveling specialization (spec,) especially if you’re new to being a Hunter, as it’s the easiest to manage. The other specs will let you level just fine, thank you, but BM is just that much easier.

Our picks for “best talent” are checked: Best talent. Descriptions are below the image. The “Z” tags are Zygor’s picks.

Beatmaster Hunter Leveling Talents for Shadowlands

CD= Cooldown, P = Passive, DOT = Damage over TIme

Level 15 talents:

    1. Killer Instinct lets your Kill Command do additional damage to low health opponents. Almost as good as animal companion. Nice if you do NOT want the extra pet.
    2. Best talent Animal Companion summons up a 2nd pet from your stable to add to your attack. You DO need to have that other pet in your list. Want a different 2nd pet? Dismiss it and then summon your other choice. Overall damage increases, even though total pet damage is reduced by 35%.
    3. Dire Beastie summons up a beast, which one depends on the zone your are in, to attack and give you a 5% Haste buff. Not much of a damage boost. Animal Companion is generally better.

Level 25:

    1. Best talent Scent of Blood causes your Bestial Wrath to give you 2 charges of Barbed Shot. Overall is the best pick for the more Barbed shots.
    2. One with the Pack increases the chance (by 20%) that your Wild Call will reset the cooldown of your Barbed shot.
    3. Chimera Shot generates 10 focus for each target hit, does damage, and costs nothing to cast. Almost as good as Scent.

Level 30:

    1. Trailblazer increases your movement speed, while out of combat for 3 seconds, by 30%. Nice for moving around when you do not want to mount up for whatever reason.
    2. Natural Mending causes your exhilaration cooldown to be reduced as you spend focus. More exhilaration over time ain’t bad. Nice for raids and some other situations. Camo is better for general leveling.
    3. Best talent Camouflage gives you stealth for a minute, just like a Rogue or Druid, and you heal up a bit while stealthed. Has its uses in leveling and PvP and other situations. Sneak up, set up your traps/ambush, and hit it. Or sneak past whatever obstacles. Or just lurk and relax and watch stuff go by. 1 min. CD

Level 35:

    1. Spitting Cobra (P) summons up a Spitting Cobra to aid you for 15 sec. when Bestial Wrath ends. Damage of this cobra is improved (by 10%) with each Cobra Shot you took while Bestial Wrath was active.
    2. Best talent Thrill of the Hunt causes your Barbed Shot to increase your crit chance by 3% (9% max, lasts 8 seconds.) Not bad at all. More consistent damage than the other picks, which makes it the best pick.
    3. A Murder of Crows is a fun talent. Bury the enemy in crows. 15 seconds of damage. Most quest mobs won’t last that long, but elites and rares will. 1 min cooldown. CD resets if the opponent dies while being crowed. More fun than Thrill, if not as consistently useful.

Level 40:

    1. Born to be Wild reduces the cooldown of your cheetah and turtle aspects by 36 seconds (20%.) Very situational.
    2. Best talent Postehaste – How often do you Disengage? Causes that ability to remove any effects that hinder movement and gives you a 50% run speed increase for a few seconds. I’m sure you can find uses for this, especially in PvP.
    3. Binding Shot lets you place an arrow which will root enemies in place if the try to move away from the arrow. Does not prevent them from casting or shooting, but is nice against melee or if you have to keep a group of dungeon mobs from moving about.

Level 45:

    1. Best talent Stomp causes your pet to stomp whenever Barbed Shot is cast. This actually does area damage and is a pretty solid choice generally. And it’s passive, so not another button to hit.
    2. Barrage is great if you are fighting groups, either in the world or in the dungeon (just be careful of your aim.) Fires a series of shots for 2.5 seconds, damaging up to 8 enemies in front of you. Can use it to round up groups while leveling, if you can handle groups. Not so hot for single target.
    3. Stampede is great for fighting groups up to 30 yards away, just make sure you are facing the correct direction. Casting Bestial Wrath with Stampede will boost the damage nicely. Items that boost your Mastery will also increase the damage of your stampede. The effect lasts for 12 seconds.

Level 50 Talents

    1. Best talent Aspect of the Beast is the best of this group, since it greatly improves your pet’s healing and damage by 30%, and passives by 50%. This will be the choice for most situations, whether questing, dungeoning, etc.
    2. Killer Cobra will cause your Cobra shot to reset the CD of your Kill Command ability, while Bestial Wrath is active.
    3. Bloodshed causes the target to bleed for 18 sec., and also increases damage from the pet to that target for the same 18 sec. This talent does NOT buff your Animal Companion pet.   

War Mode Talents for the Beastmastery Hunter

Like to live dangerously? Such as leveling with War Mode on? You gain +10% XP, and as high as +30% if you side is greatly outnumbered on your server. The talents suggested here are for general question and are not optimal for PvP. Of course, like any other talents, you can change them whenever you are in a “rested XP” area, such as an Inn. Grab them in the order that works best for you. You can choose PvP talents at 20, 30, and 40.

    1. Dire Beast: Hawk will circle the area and attack all targets within 10 yards of the selected target. Then you burn them down. The area effect is visible and the hawk cannot be attacked. 30 sec. CD, 40 yard range.
    2. Dire Beast Basilisk may be sluggish, but he hit like a truck. Don’t use on a moving target, only stationary ones. Hangs around for 30 seconds and has a 2 min. CD.
    3. Hunting Pack: Cuts the CD of your Aspect of the Cheetah in half, which is nice when questing in open world. Also, when you use that aspect it boots the speed of any allies, within 15 yards, by 90% for 3 seconds.

Marksmanship Hunter Leveling Build

You are now the primary damage, not your pet. More running and gunning and personal damage, especially if you choose to go without your pet. Good pick for the PvP game.

Our picks for “best talent” are checked: Best talent.  The “Z” tags are Zygor’s picks.

Marksmanship Hunter Leveling Talents for Shadowlands

CD= Cooldown, P = Passive, DOT = Damage over TIme

Level 15 talents:

    1. Best talent Master Marksman causes your ranged special attacks to do 15% more damage in the form of a 6 second bleed.  This DOT will replace other bleeds, not stack with them.
    2. Serpent Sting does instant damage and poisons your target over 18 seconds.
    3. A Murder of Crows summons a big flock of crows to eat the enemy, doing damage over 15 seconds. If it dies then the CD is reset. More fun then the others, if you like all the birds. THe others two are more efficient.

Level 25:

    1. Best talent Careful aim does 50% bonus Aimed Shot damage to targets at 70% or higher health. Nice for the single target fights.  Like to round up a group and murder them? Then Explosive Shot is better.
    2. Barrage is good if you are fighting groups, either in the world or in the dungeon (just be careful of your aim.) Fires a series of shots for 2.5 seconds, damaging up to 8 enemies in front of you. Can use it to round up groups while leveling, if you can handle groups. Not so hot for single target.
    3. Explosive Shot is a nice pick if you fight a lot of groups, just note the 3 seconds delay between the shot and the burst.

Level 30:

    1. Trailblazer increases your movement speed while out of combat (for at least 3 seconds.) Nice for moving around when you do not want to mount up for whatever reason, such as being in a dungeon.
    2. Natural Mending causes the CD of your Exhilaration to be reduced by 1 second for every 20 Focus spent. How often do you need this heal? If you need the heal more than the stealth, then this is your pick.
    3. Best talent Camouflage gives you stealth for a minute, just like a Rogue or Druid, and you heal up a bit while stealthed. Has its uses in leveling and certainly in PvP and other situations. Sneak up, set up your assault, and hit it. Or sneak past whatever obstacles are in the way

Level 35:

    1. Best talent Steady Focus will give you a 7% Haste buff for 15 seconds if you do two consecutive Steady Shots. This will be your “go to” talent in most situations.
    2. streamline extends the duration of your Rapid Fire by 3 seconds, and causes your next Aimed Shot to cast 30% faster.
    3. Chimera Shot will replace your Arcane Shot, and will fire a double shot. The first on hits your main target with fire damage, the other hits your 2nd target with Frost damage. Facing two+ targets often? Go with this one.

Level 40:

Movement adjustments. Pick the one that will be best for YOUR game.

    1. Born to be Wild reduces the cooldown of your Aspects of the Cheetah and Turtle by 20%, the 3 min CD goes down do just under 2.5 minutes. A little more dashing about the leveling zones. Is that useful to you?
    2. Best talent Postehaste – How often do you Disengage? Causes that ability to remove any effects that hinder movement and gives you a 50% run speed increase for a few seconds. I’m sure you can find uses for this.
    3. Binding Shackles causes any target that leaves the root effect of your BInding Shot to do 20% less damage to you for 8 seconds. Very situational talent.

Level 45:

    1. Lethal Shots gives your Arcane and Multi-shots a chance (30%) to reduce the cooldown of Rapid Fire by 5 seconds. Double Tap will usually be the better choice.
    2. Dead Eye gives your Kill Shot two charges, and causes your Aimed Shot to recharge faster for 3 seconds. Sounds good, but plays poorly with other abilities.
    3. Best talent Double Tap provides a second, free, Aimed shot or doubled Rapid Fire? I’ll take it. 1 minute CD.

Level 50 Talents

    1. Calling the Shots reduces the cooldown of Trueshot, by 2.5 seconds, when you use either Arcane Shot or Multi-shot. So more Trueshots over time.
    2. Best talent Lock and Load gives your ranged auto attacks an 8% chance to trigger Lock and Load, causing your next Aimed Shot to be free and instant. Best for single target fights. Passive effect, so one less button to think about.
    3. Volley rains your volley of arrows on an area over 6 seconds, and your Aimed Shots and Rapid Fires gain the effect of Trick Shots while Volley is active. This is the choice for group fights, 2 or ,more targets. 

War Mode Talents for the Marksmanship Hunter

Like to live dangerously? Such as leveling with War Mode on? You gain +10% XP, and as high as +30% if you side is greatly outnumbered on your server. The talents suggested here are for general question and are not optimal for PvP. Of course, like any other talents, you can change them whenever you are in a “rested XP” area, such as an Inn. You can choose PvP talents at 20, 30, and 40.

    1. Sniper Shot: 55 yard range shot, doing 20% of the target’s max health. Less if the target is an elite or other boss type. Also increases the range of your other shots by 40% for 6 seconds. 10 second CD.
    2. Trueshot Mastery reduces the CD of Trueshot by 20 sec and also restores 100% focus.
    3. Hunting Pack: Cuts the CD of your Aspect of the Cheetah in half, which is nice when questing in open world. Also, when you use that aspect it boots the speed of any allies, within 15 yards, by 90% for 3 seconds.

Survival Hunter Leveling Build

The melee hunter, though you still have some ranged attacks. Up close and personal work with your beast to dismantle the opposition. A bit more of a challenge but you have the tools.

Our picks for “best talent” are checked: Best talent.  The “Z” tags are Zygor’s picks.

Survival Hunter Leveling Talents for Shadowlands

Level 15 talents:

    1. Viper’s Venom gives your Raptor Strike a chance to make your next Serpent sting do +250% initial damage and cost no focus. Pretty sweet. If you use SS a lot while leveling, then this is your pick.
    2. Best talent Terms of Engagement lets our harpoon do more damage and generate focus. Resets the CD if the enemy dies. Kill one, harpoon the next, fly over and kill it, repeat. If you go from mob to mob, such as while leveling/questing then the is a good pick. Not so hot in dungeons, where the other two will be better.
    3. Alpha Predator gives your Kill Command two charges and 30% more damage. Might be the best “general use” talent of the bunch.

Level 25:

    1. Best talent Guerrilla Tactics gives your Wildfire Bomb two charges and 100% more initial damage. Nice.
    2. Hydra’s bite is great if you’re generally fighting groups, such as in dungeons. It lets your Serpent Sting hit two additional targets and does 20% increased damage. If most of your fights are 1 on 1, then not so useful.
    3. Butchery is another one that’s good for fighting groups at melee range. Replaces Carve, does more damage, slower CD, but has three charges. Like Carve, it will reduce the CD of Wildfire Bomb by 1 second per enemy hit, up to 5 seconds.

Level 30:

Pick what works best for YOUR game.

    1. Trailblazer increases your movement speed while out of combat (for at least 3 seconds.) Nice for moving around when you do not want to mount up for whatever reason, such as clearing out a lower level dungeon.
    2. Best talent Natural Mending causes the CD of your Exhilaration to be reduced by 1 second for every 20 Focus spent. How often do you need this heal, especially since you are more “in their face” than either BM or MM?  If you need the heal more than the stealth, then this is your pick.
    3. Camouflage gives you stealth for a minute, just like a Rogue or Druid, and you heal up a bit while stealthed. Has its uses in leveling and certainly in world and BG PvP and other situations. Sneak up, set up your assault, and hit it. Or sneak past whatever obstacles are in the way

Level 35:

    1. Best talent Bloodseeker modifies Kill Command to cause the enemy to bleed over 8 seconds. You and your pet also gain a 10% attack speed bonus for every nearby bleeding enemy (within 12 yards.) Generally the best pick for leveling out of these three.
    2. Steel Trap immobilizes one enemy for up to 20 seconds and causes it to bleed. Damage might break the effect. Good for single targets and keeping something at a distance.
    3. A Murder of Crows is a fun talent. Bury the enemy in crows. 15 seconds of damage. Most quest mobs won’t last that long, but elites and rares will. 1 min cooldown.

Level 40:

Movement adjustments. Pick the one that will be best for YOUR game.

    1. Best talent Born to be Wild reduces the cooldown of your Aspects of the Eagle, Cheetah, and Turtle by 20%, the 3 min CD goes down do just under 2.5 minutes. A little more dashing about the leveling zones, BGs, or dungeons. Is that useful to you? Especially if you tend to get into trouble?
    2. Postehaste – How often do you Disengage? Causes that ability to remove any effects that hinder movement and gives you a 50% run speed increase for a few seconds. I’m sure you can find uses for this. If you never use it, then grab on of the others.
    3. Binding Shot has little use while leveling, unless you want to root a group in place and then hack them down.

Level 45:

    1. Best talent Tip of the Spear causes your Kill Command to increase the damage of  your next Raptor Strike by 25%, stacking up to 3 times (75% max.)
    2. Mongoose bite replaces your Raptor Strike, hits hard, and triggers Mongoose Fury. M. Fury increases the damage of your next Bite by 15% and stack up to 5 times, for a 75% damage increase. Very nice for single target fights, but the value drops some for groups. Which do you find yourself fighting?
    3. Flanking strike is a short charge (15 yards) shared by you and your pet, both striking at the same time. Also generates 30 focus.

Level 50 Talents

    1. Birds of Prey extends the duration of your Coordinated Assault by 1.5 seconds when you attack your pet’s target with Raptor Strike or Carve. Good for those tough single targets, such as Rares, Elites, Bosses, etc. This pick assumes you are mostly fighting single targets.
    2. Best talent Wildfire Infusion gives your Wildfire Bomb an extra kick every time you use it. It will randomly pick from Shrapnel, Pheromones, or Volatility. Fortunately, that effect will be labelled so you know what is coming and can plan accordingly. Such as Pheromones giving you a lot of Kill Commands and therefore a lot of regenerating Focus, allowing you to burn hard. Good if you’re fighting groups and not bad for single targets.
    3. Chakrams lets you throw two round killing things towards your target, hitting it twice, and also hitting anything in the path both on the way out and the way back to you. Weaker than the other two, but still Ok.

War Mode Talents for the Survival Hunter

Like to live dangerously? Such as leveling with War Mode on? You gain +10% XP, and as high as +30% if you side is greatly outnumbered on your server. The talents suggested here are for general question and are not optimal for PvP. Of course, like any other talents, you can change them whenever you are in a “rested XP” area, such as an Inn. You can choose PvP talents at 20, 30, and 40.

    1. Hunting Pack: Cuts the CD of your Aspect of the Cheetah in half, which is nice when questing in open world. Also, when you use that aspect it boots the speed of any allies, within 15 yards, by 90% for 3 seconds.
    2. Mending Bandage: Can decrease downtime while questing with extra healing, and can be nice to quickly clear a number of DoTs from yourself. Pause for 6 seconds to removes all DOTS, diseases, bleeds, etc. and heal yourself for 30%. Being attacked will stop the effect.
    3. Hi-Explosive Trap: Can be useful if you’re getting over-whelmed by mobs, as you can use it to gain extra distance. This is probably the least impactful War Mode talent, but there are not many other good options. Drop it and the next target to hit it triggers it, knocking all nearby mobs away. Lasts for 1 min.


Hunter Abilities

Each spec of Hunter (and this is true for all classes) gets a set of unique abilities. For example, only Beast Mastery Hunters will have Kill Command. These are learned, along with the regular Hunter abilities, as you level. Same for talents.

Focus is your resource and your various abilities will either use it or generate it. Then the game is to manage it well, so you can always do something when you need to.

All Hunters do, though, get a set of abilities in common. These abilities, shared by all Hunters, are:

    1. Critical Strikes (1) adds +5% to your crit chance.
    2. Steady Shot can be used while moving. Decent damage.
    3. Arcane Shot (2) is now your basic shot and does Arcane damage.
    4. Wing clip (3) slows the opponent by 50% for 15 seconds.
    5. Disengage (4) lets you leap back by 13 yards, away from whatever. You will get more range if you leap downhill. It’ll get you out of “the fire,” but not away from from that Death Knight’s Death Grip ability.
    6. Track Beasts (4) and also demons, dragonkin, elementals, giants, humanoids, undead, and hidden things (such as Rogues, Druids, and camouflaged Hunters.) Each is a separate ability and tracked targets will appear on your mini-map.
    7. Aspect of the Cheetah (5) for when you need a burst of speed. +90% run speed for 3 seconds and +30% for another 9 seconds. At level 46 the initial burst of speed lasts 5 sec.
    8. Beast Lore (5) Gives you access to lots of data about a targeted beast. It’s in your “Pet Utility” icon and the info will appear in your tooltip when the creature is targeted. Info lasts 30 seconds. Range is 40 yards.
    9. Call Pet 1 (5) allows you to summon your first pet. Here kitty kitty…. There are several levels of this ability, each calling another pet. You get others at levels 10, 17, 41, and 48. Additional pets can be parked in your stable. You will also, at this level, get your Dismiss, feed, mend, revive and tame pet abilities.
    10. Feign Death (6) lets you play dead, losing aggro from the mobs if you stay “dead” for at least a couple of seconds. Lasts up to 6 min, 30 second CD which starts after you get up. Does not affect your pet, but at level 10 your beastie can do it, too.
    11. Wake up lets you wake your pet up, even though you cannot tell it to sleep until level 10.
    12. Hunter’s Mark (7) puts a mark on the target allowing you to keep track of it, even if it stealths. 60 yard range, no CD, does not disappear if you die. Can be dispelled.
    13. Aspect of the Turtle (8) lasts 8 seconds and deflects 30% of incoming damage from many attacks. 3 min cooldown. Oh, and you cannot attack while turtled. Oops.
    14. Exhilaration (9) heals you for 30%, at 44 it also heals your pet for 100% of its health.
    15. Aspect of the Chameleon (10) allows you to become untrackable. 3 min. CD. Lasts one minute. Might have some use for stalking certain players…
    16. Control Pet (10) allows you to give commands to your pet.
    17. Fetch (10) lets your pet loot for you. Just because, well, why not? Also, you have to stand still while the pet loots.
    18. Fireworks (10) allows you to, yes, fire off fireworks from your ranged weapon.
    19. Freezing Trap (10) will freeze one mob for up to one minute, 40 yard range, 30 seconds cooldown. Damage breaks the effect.
    20. Play dead (10) tells your pet to… play dead, for up to 6  minutes. 30 second CD.
    21. Flare: (19) Think there might be something lurking in the bushes? Drop a flare and expose it. Can also drop it at your feet. It won’t stop a shadowstepping Rogue, but it’ll expose other sneakers. 20 second CD.
    22. Tar Trap (21) is good when the enemy path is restricted, such as a tunnel. It will slow them by 50% while in the area and has an 8 yard radius. Lasts 1 min.
    23. Misdirection (27) sends all the threat YOU generate elsewhere, such as to the tank. Lasts 8 seconds with a 30 seconds CD. Getting aggro in the dungeon? Use this.
    24. Eyes of the Beast (29) allows you control your beast and to see through its eyes for 1 minute.
    25. Tranquilizing Shot (37) removes one enrage and one magic effect from the enemy target. 10 second CD.  At level 54 is also grants you 10 focus.
    26. Scare Beast (39) is a fear effect against beasts, including players in beast form (such as Feral Druids.) The beast may run for up to 20 seconds. 0 yard range. No CD, so shoot as many as you want.
    27. Kill Shot (42) is a brutal shot to enemies with 20% or less health remaining. At 58 its Crit damage is increased by 25%. 10 second CD.
    28. Eagle Eye (43) to change your viewpoint, out to any range, and spy on something.
    29. Mend Pet 2 (52) improves the heal effect by 15%.

Hunter Abilities by Specialization

(P) = Passive, CD = Cooldown

Beast Mastery

Beastmastery is all about the improvement of our pets. These talents and abilities will take the pet from being just an assistant to something far greater.


The marksmanship tree is the namesake tree for hunters, due to the spec’s emphasis on ranged combat. In this spec the pet is an accessory and you can even run without one with your Lone Wolf ability.


Improved traps ad melee weapons for a more “in your face” experience than the other specs.

  • Kill Command (10) – pet lunges for the throat. Damage increased by your Versatility stat. 
  • Mastery, Master of Beasts (P, 10) – your pets do at least 15% more damage.
  • Pack Tactics (11) increases your passive focus generation by 100%.
  • Barbed shot (12) causes an 8 second bleed and sends your pet into a frenzy, 30% faster attack for 8 seconds, and generates 20 focus over 8 seconds.
  • Concussive Shot (13) slows the target’s movement by 50% for 6 seconds, with a 5 second cooldown. Your Cobra Shot will increase the duration by 3 seconds. Very nice for kiting the opposition. Replaces Wing Clip.
  • Cobra shot (14) is your basic attack. It reduces the CD of Kill command by 1 second. At 49 it does 50% more damage.
  • Counter Shot (18) interrupts spellcasting and locks out that school of magic for 3 seconds. I’m sure you can find a use for that…
  • Bestial Wrath (20) – More damage for both of you for 15 seconds. At 34 it the cooldown is reduced by 12 seconds for each use of your Barbed Shot.
  • Multi Shot (23) hits all enemies within 8 yards of your target and, at 32, triggers Beast Cleave.
  • Wild Call (24) your auto shot crits have a chance to reset the cooldown of Barbed Shot.
  • Kindred Spirits (P, 28) Increases the Max focus of you and your pet by 20%.
  • Beast Cleave (P, 32) – after your Multi-Shot your pet’s attacks hit up to 5 nearby enemies for the next 4 seconds.
  • Intimidation (33) stuns your target for 5 seconds. A very useful ability.
  • Aspect of the Wild (38) give you and your pet(s) +10% increased crit chance and +5 focus per second for 20 seconds. 2 mjn CD.
  • Exotic Beasts (P, 39) – You can now tame these things. This is how you get that T Rex.
  • Aimed Shot (10) – Ready, aim… destroy. Hard hitting shot. 2 charges, 12 sec. CD
  • Mastery: Sniper Training (10) increases the range by 5% and the damage (11%) of your abilities.
  • Steady shot rank 2 (11) is your basic shot, and generates 10 focus.
  • Bursting Shot (12) does low damage, but knocks back opponents and slows them by half for for 6 seconds. Range is 0 yards, so this is for enemies right on top of you. Fire it off then Disengage back and you have some distance.
  • Concussive Shot (13) replaces Wing Clip and slows the target’s movement by 50% for 6 seconds, with a 5 second cooldown. Very nice for kiting the opposition. Your Steady Shot will increase the duration by 3 seconds.
  • Arcane Shot rank 2 (14) now costs 20 less focus.
  • Counter Shot (18) interrupts spellcasting and locks out that school of magic for 3 seconds. I’m sure you can find a use for that…
  • Rapid Fire (20) fires 7 shots over two seconds, each one generating 1 focus. At level 28 it can be used while moving. 20 sec. CD. At 28 each shot will generate 1 focus.
  • Multi-shot (23) hits up to 5  targets within 10 yards of your primary target.
  • Lone Wolf (24) lets you have +10% damage if you want to work without a pet.
  • Trick Shots (32) is just the thing for those group situations. Aimed Shot or Rapid Fire will hit up to 5 additional targets for 1/2 damage IF your Multi Shot hits 3 or more targets.
  • True Shot (34) reduces the CD of Aimed Shot and Rapid Fire by 60% (to 5 and 8 seconds) and causes Aimed Shot to fire 50% faster for 15 seconds. 2 min. cooldown. While active you receive +50% focus.
  • Precise Shots (38) — Your Aimed Shot causes your next 1 or 2 Arcane, Chimera, or Multi Shots to do 75% more damage.
  • Mastery: Spirit Bond (10) causes your and your pet’s focus spending abilities to do more damage. Also both of you will regenerate 1% of your health every 5 seconds. Not much, but every little bit helps.
  • Raptor Strike (10) is your basic strike.
  • Kill Command (11) – pet lunges for the throat. Damage increased by your Versatility stat. At 28 has a 25% chance to reset its CD and Coordinated Assault (at 34) brings that chance to 50%. Generates 15 focus.
  • Serpent Sting (12) does instant damage and also damage over 12 seconds.
  • Wing Clip 2 (13) reduces your Wing Clip cost by 10.
  • Harpoon (14) roots your opponent for 3 seconds and then pulls you towards them. 30 sec. CD.  20 sec. at 38.
  • Muzzle (18) puts s muzzle on your target, interrupting spell-casting and silencing that school of magic for 3 seconds. Melee range. 15 sec. CD.
  • Wildfire Bomb (20) can be thrown at enemies up to 40 yards away. It then explodes in a cone area, away from you, coating all targets in flames and burning for 6 seconds. +25% damage at 49.
  • Carve (23) strikes up to 5 enemies in front of you. At 32 it reduces the CD of Wildfire Bomb by 1 second for each enemy hit, up to 5.
  • Aspect of the Eagle (24) gives your Raptor Strike a 40 yard range for 15 seconds.  1.5 min. CD.
  • Intimidation (33) causes your pet to stun your target for 5 seconds. A very useful ability. 1 minute CD.
  • Coordinated Assault (34) unites you and your pet to attack as one, each of you doing 20% more damage for 20 seconds. At 50 there is an increased chance to reset the CD on Kill Command.

Fastest Leveling Through the Shadowlands

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A Hunter’s Stunning Moves and Slows

Because what can’t catch you can’t hurt you.

Note that Diminishing Returns will make repeated effects less effective. For example, in a 15 second period your first slow might last for 6 seconds, your next for 3, the next (and any others) for 1.5 seconds. After 15 seconds with no slows it resets to the full duration.

If possible you’ll want to mix other effects in with your slows. Most quest mobs won’t last long enough for that to be a concern, but elites, players, and some dungeon mobs will.

  1. Concussive Shot, the old reliable. Use every 5 seconds to slow the enemy for 6 seconds.
  2. Wing Clip (S) also slows, but for 15 seconds.
  3. Counter Shot for those times when someone is foolish enough to try and cast a spell at you.
  4. Freezing Trap locks down the opponent for a time, until damage breaks the effect or enough time passes.
  5. Tar Trap slows anyone entering the area. Try putting it in a tunnel or other restricted area.
  6. Intimidation (BM, S) stuns the opponent for 5 seconds.
  7. Nets made with your Tailoring skill root the target for 3 seconds. For example: Netherweave Net

Get Me Outa There!!

  1. Disengage lets you leap away from the target. Not far, but maybe enough.
  2. PvP trinket – there is an heirloom trinket you can use to escape from sticky situations.
  3. Aspect of the Turtle blocks 30% of incoming damage, but with your head in your shell you cannot attack.

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Pets & Pet Talents

Hunters can have up to five pets, any one of which is immediately summonable at any time.  You will gain access to these as you level. It works much the same way as the Warlock pets, you summon whichever one you want when you need it. The capacity of the Stables has also been greatly increased, to 200 in Shadowlands. While you might not be able to collect all possible Hunter pets, you can gather some from every pet family (there are 44) and will be able to create a nice, full stable.

Families are groups of similar pets, such as Bat, Bear, Gorilla, Serpent, etc. All pets of a class share the same stats and the same skill set.

Pet families are grouped as Ferocity (DPS,) Tenacity (Tanks,) and Cunning (special abilities.) Each pet is firmly rooted in their attack type. You cannot change their spec. You can use your Beast Lore ability to see what type they are before you tame them.

Ferocity pets are good for continuous damage, tenacity pets make good tanks, and cunning pets have unique abilities which can be very useful in certain situations. All the pets within any given tree will have access to the same talents.

For leveling try the Tenacity pets, since you do want your pet to be a tank. For dungeoning you should generally use a Ferocity pet. Make sure you have Growl turned off or the tank will yell at you.

What to feed that beastie:

Feeding your pet isn’t what it used to be. There’s no more happiness or loyalty to consider, now they just stay happy and healthy and loyal without any input from you (yes, they used to run away if you didn’t care for them. No longer.)

You don’t actually even have to feed them anymore, but it is a nice heal.  If they’re hurt then feeding them will restore some health. The higher the level food you feed them, the more health is restored.

  • Meat is the easiest food type to obtain and pets that will only eat meat are not difficult to feed.
  • Fish is not too much trouble either, as long as you are willing to catch them. You can also hunt coastal humanoids, like murlocs and naga, for their fish drops.
  • Pets that will eat neither of these take a little more effort and planning.
  • Dumpster pets, such as boars and bears, that eat just about anything, are really nice from an inventory management standpoint. You can toss any odd food drops at them.

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How to Gear Your Leveling Hunter

Hunters are somewhat less gear dependent than some other classes (Rogues, Warriors…,) but a nice bow/gun will help you kill things faster as will good stats on the rest of your gear. That said, you’ll still level quickly without the best gear.

Ultimately, when you start the gear race, what you want is to generate massive amounts of damage, which requires stacking Agility. Due to your numerous tools of survivability including feign death, traps, dodge, etc. you’ll find stamina a largely low priority stat, being Beast Mastery specced makes it even more so.

Over time you (and everyone) have gained and lost Hit, Expertise, Resilience, PvP Power, Multistrike, attuned stats, Reforging, and a 15% base crit rating.  Versatility has stuck around, though.

Hunter Stats:

Zygor'sOne point of agility equals an increase in attack power and dodge, making it the best for hunters in that it increases everything required at once. However, individual items possessing significant amounts of straight up +attack power or +critical rating are valued as well.

In Shadowlands the primary stat (Agility in your case) has become more important. this make item level of any item with agility more important.

Don’t worry too much about the secondary stats until you’re very high level, though if you come across some cheap gems or enchants then go for it. If you are doing tougher stuff, such as level 19 PvP twinking, then get the best gear and enchants that you can.

The short version, for leveling, regardless of your spec: Agility & Haste and/or Crit.

  1. Agility – Your #1 stat over all else, by far, regardless of spec.
  2. Crit rating – the more the merrier, for any Hunter. You already start at a 10% Crit rating, now get more.
  3. Attack Power – You can never have enough, but in Cataclysm and beyond you’ll only find it with certain enchants and items.
  4. Mastery – Mastery (trainable at level 10) improves what you do and varies with your spec. It’s a pretty darn good stat for BM Hunters, not quite so much for other Hunter flavors.
  5. Haste – Good stuff to get, but Agility still comes first and Crit second.
  6. Versatility: Increases damage and healing done. Reduces damage taken. Good PvP stat, falls behind Crit, though.
  7. Stamina– Your pet is taking the mob’s attack, so you don’t need a lot of Stam.
    1. If you’re solo leveling via quests or grinding, then you want some. How much depends on how often you’re getting hit. Get enough to be comfortable with your survival chances.
    2. If you’re dungeon leveling then you don’t need much. Your tank should be taking pretty much all of the damage.
    3. If you PvP then you will want a lot more.
  8. Intellect, Stength, and Spirit: are all useless.

The Stat Priority for the Hunter Specs

Keeping in mind that this is most important for competitive stuff. For just leveling and questing it is not so important. ‘>>’ = much greater than…”

    • BM: Weapon Damage (item level) >> Agility > Haste >= Crit > Versatility >= Mastery
    • MM: Weapon Damage (item level) >>> Agility >> Critical Strike > Mastery > Haste >= Versatility
    • Surv: Weapon Damage (item level) >> Agility > Haste > Critical Strike ~ Versatility >>> Mastery


Gearing Up your Hunter as you Level

Note that any of the items below can be enchanted with top level enchants. You will need to have a level 85+ character add the crafted enchants (such as the Leatherworking leg armor) to your item, but she can then ship it to your leveling character.

How Much of a Challenge do You Want?

  1. Easy mode: Full heirlooms, or the best dungeon gear, fully enchanted. You’ll blast through everything.
  2. Moderate: Same as above, but with War Mode on. The +10% XP will help.
  3. Hard: Only use the gear you earn from quests. No heirlooms, no gear bought from vendors or the Auction House or other players.
  4. Ironman: Only white quality gear. No, you don’t get to buy gear from that Tony Stark Gnome. No potions, enchants, etc.
  5. Naked. No armor. Just your regular clothing. You can have a decent weapon, but that’s it.
  6. Hardcore: Like Ironman, but no talents, no glyphs, no groups, no professions, no enchants or gems, your only gold comes from what your hardcore character earns. If you die you start over. Just like the Diablo game. Oh yeah, you should probably have War Mode turned off.
  7. Completely Nuts: Hardcore with War Mode on.

Heirlooms can be purchased from a dedicated vendors and are stored in a tab in your “Collections.” Why heirlooms? Because you can then forget about most of your gear as you level, since it levels with you. These items cap out at 50, though, so when you enter Shadowlands you will be replacing these items with better gear.

You can also skip the heirlooms and just go with gear you loot. Your call.

You can now buy almost all of the heirlooms, for 500 gold (trinkets, armor, rings) each or 700g for weapons, from a special vendor.  For Alliance it’s Krom Stoutarm in the Library of Ironforge, which is found on the north-eastern edge of the outer ring. For Horde it’s Estelle Gendry in the south-western side of the Rogue’s Quarter of Undercity. (Once you unlock the BFA content she will have moved to the top of the main gate of Orgrimmar.)

A change in Shadowlands is that heirloom pieces no longer give extra XP. But if  you are wearing several pieces then you do get a set bonus. The bonuses mostly let your Rested XP last significantly longer. If you happen to level up in the middle of a fight, you will do a nice bit of burst damage and gain 40% to your Agility for a couple minutes.

Once you have the heirloom item (starts at level 30) you will need to upgrade it in four steps (30 to 35 to 40 to 45 to 50) to get it to cap out at level 50. 9000 buys the item and the bits to upgrade it to level 50. 13,500 buys the weapon and the bits to upgrade it. So you’d better have some cash. The upside is that once you have any given item then any appropriate character can wear it. So you buy a piece of mail armor and your five Hunters can all use it.

Need the gold to do that? Check out Zygor’s gold guide.

The heirlooms will be better than any gear you will find while questing or dungeoning, except in rare circumstances. If you do not have, or are not using, heirlooms…

Dungeon leveling can earn you some nice gear. You can also find pieces in in the Auction House. Otherwise your regular quest gear will do you fine.

See our Dungeon Leveling Guide for tips on leveling via the various instances and our recommended leveling guide for blasting to the level cap.

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Gems and Enchants

So how rich are you? Eventually you will get gear with gem sockets. If you have some gold then pop in the best gems you can afford. Go for Agility with any gems you decide to pick up, for any Hunter spec. You won’t need gems, at all, if you’re in heirloom gear.

Note that gem sockets are not common.

Enchants can be expensive. You will also be leveling quickly enough that you will outgrow your gear before the enchant is of too much use. Still, if you want them and have the cash, then go for it. They’re pretty much required (as are gems) for PvP and raiding.

Long ago there was an item level requirement for enchants, but this was removed. So yes, you can now apply the highest level enchants to level 1 items. I would suggest only doing that with items that you’re going to keep for awhile, such as your heirlooms.

Note that the crafted enchants, such as Lord Blastington’s Scope of Doom, will require a level 32 character to apply them to the item and then your lower level character will be able to use them. Or use a friendly guildie if you don’t have that level character yourself.

Enchants for heirlooms

All of these can be placed onto a level 1 item, but it should be an item you’re going to keep for awhile, such as an heirloom or other nice piece of gear.

    • Head, Trinkets: : None.
    • Neck: Mark of the Claw: Sometimes increase Crit and Haste by 16 for 6 seconds. Max item level 60.
    • Back: Binding of Agility, +3 Ag, Cannot be used past item level 60.
    • Chest: Glorious Stats: +4 to all stats, max item level is 50.
    • Cloak: Binding of Agility: +3 Ag., max item level is 60.
    • Shoulders: Tiger Claw, +5 Ag, +2 Crit, Requires a level 32 to apply, max item level is 50.
    • Legs: Shadowleather Leg Armor, +6 Ag, +3 Crit, Requires a level 32 to apply, item level 50 max.
    • Rings: Get Accord of Haste or Crit or mastery or Versatility, each adds +9.
    • Weapons: Force Multiplier: Sometimes gain +28 Ag and +18 Mastery, Haste, Or Crit (it picks your highest stat.) 15 seconds.

Non-heirloom pieces

Shadowlands enchants require level 50+, so are not listed here.

Scrolls and potions can boost a variety of stats but don’t stack with each other. Scrolls of Agility are generally dirt cheap, so buy a bunch. They’re considered to be Potions for stacking purposes, meaning you can’t have a potion and a scroll up at the same time.

Hunter Leveling Glyphs:

Useful glyphs are dead as of Legion. The ones that remain are cosmetic only. Such as: Glyph of Lesser Proportion for a less imposing pet.


Hunter Leveling Tips

Learn to Kite

Once upon a time you didn’t get your pet until level 10, so you would be “running and gunning” (AKA: Kiting) until that point. When kiting it’s useful to learn to be moving forward and then jump, half turn, fire your shot(s), and land facing the original direction. Some jump and do a 360 degree turn, others half and back. Practice, it will become easy. Just run around and jump and spin.

When you get Concussive Shot it becomes easier, since you can now slow the mob and more easily stay ahead of it.

Kiting is also occasionally useful later on, such as when fighting tough mobs that might squish your pet. Turn off your pet’s “Growl” ability, to make sure that you have 100% of the mob’s attention, and then kite. The pet is added damage, but is safe enough. Skilled Hunters can take Elite mobs a few levels higher than they are. Of course, they need the enough room to run around safely or will get overwhelmed by the other mobs in the area.

If you want more you can see a good kiting guide at OrchishArmyKnife.  It’s old, but much of it is still quite useful.

Something else that you might find useful, if you PvP, is Skill-Capped.

Other Tips

MM and BM Hunters can use a variety of melee weapons, but you can’t equip them at the same time as your bow/gun. You shouldn’t be in melee range very often and your bow/gun has no minimum range anyway, so you won’t need melee weapons. Save the bag slots and get rid of them.

Survival, on the other hand, likes a good spear…

When training new pets set up a freezing trap first. That way the “soon to be new pet” will spend a little less time trying to eat you while you tame it.

BM and MM always stay at range. Let your pet take the heat and you support the pet. You have abilities intended to slow the opponent for a reason: to let you get distance. There is no minimum range, but why make it easy for the opposition?

As your pet gets tougher, and your skills better, you can have you pet attack more than one mob, one after the other. It will be able to hold aggro, if you’re a bit careful, while the two of you burn them down. Simply have the pet attack the first, what it once, then run to and attack the second.

Hunters do have it too easy, which is why they’re often called “Huntards.” As your skills increase try to make things harder. Practice fighting multiple mobs at once, higher level mobs, and so on. Practice your kiting skills. The end result is you’ll be a much better player at high level.

Always log out in an Inn, to get the 100% bonus rest XP. If you’re a Pandaren then that XP bonus will last longer.

Questing is much better than grinding for XP. If you grab all the quests in an area you’ll find that several are in almost the same place. Do all of those at the same time. Plan ahead a bit, know where you have to go, and try not to do quests that take you way out of your way, unless you’re hitting more quests along the way. Turn in a bunch of quests at one time and feel the power.

Dungeons are great XP and you get to practice your group skills. Obviously you’ll be a damage dealer (DPS) and if you’re new to dungeoning you might want to do your first few with friends. Guilds can be great for this.

PvP (battleground) leveling is more “interesting.” Lots of experience points if your side wins and so-so otherwise.

Gear – You’re not as gear dependent as most other classes, so don’t feel you always have to have the best gear, all the time. Gear found by completing quests will keep you going all the way to the end. Save the gear grinding for PvP and Raiding. Of course, if you’re in heirlooms you can forget about gear until those ‘looms cap out.

You get to wear Mail armor starting at level 40, but since you’re hardly ever in melee it’s not such a big thing. At 50 you will want to be in all Mail armor for the +5% Agility bonus.

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“How To” as a Hunter

Ok, lets start with a “basics of kiting” video.

Beast Mastery

Pretty decent PvE BM video. Nice and short, aimed at those not really familiar with the BM hunter. If you’re low level than use what you can.  It’s a BFA guide, so a little dated, but still some good info.


A quick video on Marksmanship by the same dude. Oriented to those MM hunters going petless, but some good stuff even for those who don’t. It’s a BFA guide, so a little dated, but still some good info.



A really quick and dirty “how to” for survival. From the same dude as above. Also a BFA guide, so a little dated, but still some good info. :

How to Trap

This is an old video, really old, but it covers the basics of Hunter traps nicely. Your traps are now ranged, so adjust appropriately.

This one is a newer trap guide (BFA) and is aimed at Survival PvP, but BM and MM might get something out of it.


Server Types and Realms

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RP: In theory, these are the servers for the Role-Players. You aren’t required to role-play there and most don’t, but there are a fair number who do and there are more role-playing guilds on these servers than elsewhere.

PvP/PvE realms are now obsolete. War Mode now rules. Keep it off and there is no World PvP. Turn it on and your are now in a PvP realm and will earn 10% bonus XP (and maybe more) and the occasional goodies.  Turn it on or off in Stormwide or Orgrimmar.

You will also be able to access PvP talents in addition to your regular talents.

And here’s the way it used to be: 

PvP: On a PvP server players from Horde and Alliance can freely attack each other in most areas. With Mists of Pandaria and Warlords world PvP generally (not always) consists of max level characters flying around the old world, dropping down, killing someone, and flying away. In short, world PvP is gankage. If that’s your game (either as ganker or gankee) then go for it.

Seriously, though, there is the opportunity for world PvP, between more or less evenly matched characters, here and there and esp. in the high level zones. Some PvP guilds do World PvP (as well as Battlegrounds and Arenas and Duels.) Sometimes they organize PvP events, such as city raids.

PvE: There is no world PvP so you can level in safety from high level (or any) gankage. Of course, you can’t do it to them, either. You can still do Duels, Battlegrounds, and Arenas. Horde and alliance wave at each other and the most violent thing is the occasional duel challenge or rude gesture.

If you accept the duel challenge or fight in the BGs then you will be PvP flagged for a few minutes. This means that any other character from the other faction can attack you immediately.

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Professions and Gold Gathering

Once upon a time you got certain bonuses from have a profession, such as +Crit. As of Warlords the professions will no longer provide combat bonuses. They do provide some nice gear though.

Make an alt that you will park at the Auction House. As you level just mail all the sellable stuff you collect to your alt (to sell) and then get back to the leveling. Log into your alt when you’re done and put the stuff up on the AH. See our gold guide for other tips.

Get the biggest bags you can afford and loot everything, always, unless you already have enough gold. Also, everything white or better, that you’re not keeping, gets shipped to your alt. Vendor the gray stuff.

If you have a ton of gold then leatherworking will provide some solid gear, both leather and mail, at the expense of that ton of gold and the time to level the skill up. If you’re not so rich then skip all of the crafting skills. Skinning will provide some of the raw material for your Leatherworking.

  • Q: How do you make a small fortune in WoW?
  • A: Start with a large fortune and then level up a crafting profession.

An interesting change in BFA was that each expansion is a separate sub-skill of any given profession. For example,  if you are in Kul Tira or Zandalar you can level up that Leatherworking from the start, without having to have to level it up prior to that. Skip working the skill ntil you get into the BFA zones, and then start working it. You can go back and get the other sub-skills later.

There are craftable items from most professions that do sell nicely and for a nice profit, but it takes some research to find them. Most, but not all, of the gold making benefit from crafting profs is at the high end.

    • LeatherWorking will allow you to make some of your gear and Skinning is a complimentary profession. Leveling through Warlords? Your Garrison follower will allow you to make tents which will increase all your stats by 10%, are account bound, and are usable at any level.
    • Alchemy can make a number of very useful concoctions to consume when needed, such as healing and agility chemicals. Take Herbalism with this, you’ll save a ton of gold.
    • Enchanting can put some pretty nice buffs on things and disenchant other things. You can then sell or use the disenchanted bits.
    • Engineering – If you’re rich and want to ride on of those Mechano Hog Motorbike things eventually. There are a lot of interesting gadgets in this profession so it’s worth a look. Think gliders, boot rockets, bombs, etc.
    • Inscription – Used to be that it was a really nice money maker. Still ain’t bad. Take Herbalism with this, you’ll save a ton of gold. Make glyphs, caster items, some trinkets, and some misc other stuff.
    • Jewelcrafting – Can be a good money-maker. Take Mining to go with it. Can make useful rings, neck items, and gemmed mounts.
    • Blacksmithing – Nothing much here except some mail armor, move along.
    • Tailoring – Nothing much here, except the nets (For example: Netherweave Net.) Oh yeah, and various Battle Standards.
    • Cooking can make interesting foods, some of which buff Agility, as well as other stats.
    • Fishing can provide materials for cooking and food for meat eating pets (not crabs and birds.)
    • Archeology can create, eventually, some rare pets and interesting items. And if you’re interested in the game’s lore…
    • First Aid used to be a skill.  Now you buy bandages from a Tailor or the Auction House, Potions from an Alchemist or the Auction House.
    • Mining, skinning, and herbalism are your create gold on demand skills. Take any two, but we suggest that Herbalism and Mining be two of them, for the XP gain.


The Fast Hunter Leveling Guide

Why level the old way instead of just buying a high level character for 60 bucks (from the WoW store) and then working just those last ten levels? For one, you’ll still have to do those last ten levels. For another, there’s rep, gold, exploration, learning your character, etc.

Click Here For Faster Leveling
Dugi’s Leveling Guides and More,
Click Here and get Started

With a bazillion quests in the game the leveling grind to the tops levels can be daunting, and it’s even more so as new expansions are released, such as Warlords of Draenor. There are always plenty of spots where people wonder where to go and what to do and how they can move faster to get into the end-game stuff.

To solve that problem we recommend an in-game leveling guide. You’ll never again wonder what to do or where to go next and you’ll never be the guy in chat asking, “Where do I go at level…?” The levels will just come, boom, boom, boom and you’ll hit the level cap a lot faster than otherwise, whether you’re brand new to the World of Warcraft or decked head to toe in Heirlooms.

Dugi’s in-game Leveling Guide takes care of all the “looking up stuff.” No more switching from game to quest log, no more asking questions in char or guild, no more browsing some website for tips. No more doubts or questions about what to do next.

Dugi’s guide appears as an in-game window (very small and moveable) which tracks the quests you’re on, and the objectives (kill this, collect that.) It automatically updates as you complete tasks and quests and provides all of the “where to go and what to do” info that you will need to level quickly. The window is also customizable for your needs.

Where it beats WoW’s in-game quest helper all to heck is by laying out the best path all along the way. Plus, if you spend some time in the dungeons or PvP leveling then, when you return to questing, Dugi’s will automatically update to your new level and show you where to go next.

Note: Dugi’s guide is always quickly updated for all patches and expansions, including Warlords, so is never obsolete. Grab your copy now and hit the level cap, fast!

Related Postings

9 thoughts on “The Hunter Leveling Guide for Shadowlands”

    1. Updating for legion soon. I plan to have rotations for various level ranges, too. Though if you’re questing it isn’t too important, especially with heirlooms.

    1. Sigh… no, that means I left it off the list. It’s expensive to level, but does let you make your own gear. The bracer enchant gives you a nice agility bonus. It’s as good as any other profession from that point of view.

  1. “Pick any two” – no. Pick herbalism and mining, because both give experience. Also, take up arch and battle pets as well, all over good exp and you’ll level that much faster.

    1. Hey. Good points. Guess I’ll have to add a page on the pets, hmm?

      Only problem with mining (and herbalism) is that you have to go a bit out of your way to make sure you have enough skill to move on to the next zone. While skinning gives no XP the mobs will be at your feet (or close) and you’ll probably be able to keep you skill up with no extra effort.

      Archeology and pets will also take you out of your way.

  2. Pingback: Reading Notes 12-27-12 « Huntard to Hunter

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