Cover art of Beast Mastery Hunter
HC Guides

Beast Mastery Hunter

    Hardcore viability

    Hunters are a ranged pet class in World of Warcraft. Having a pet that scales entirely independent of gear gives immense utility, survivability, and dps. Hunter themselves have a large toolkit and are second to none when it comes to kiting mobs. Any players new to WoW or Hardcore in general will find hunter to be extremely conducive safe playstyle naturally, but the class can also be pushed to be a leveling machine. Hunters can safely complete a large amount of elite quests that are out of reach for other classes, and can kill mobs of a higher level easier than any other class.

    Best races

    Horde Horde

    For Horde, you have three options on your flavor of hunter - orc, troll, and tauren.

    Orc and Troll are actually fairly close in terms of usefulness - +5% pet damage on orcs is competitive with +5 bow skill and berserking (even a full health berserking) on trolls. Most competitive leveling weapons are bows, but pet damage is great for overall dps and helps with threat. Either one of these is a great choice.

    Tauren on the other hand, is unfortunately a lower tier. Extra health and a short range stun aren’t nothing, but they are close to it for a hunter.

    Alliance Alliance

    Dwarves and night elves are your choices for ally.

    This argument boils down to much better starting stats and shadowmeld for the night elves against the tremendous utility that stoneform gives the dwarves along with a very minor gun skill increase.

    Shadowmeld has a little extra utility on a hunter after you get feign death: If you feign death near a bunch of mobs, rather than standing up and risking aggroing - you can instead opt to shadowmeld directly out of feign death, wait on feign death’s cooldown, then try to run away. If the mobs re-aggro, you have another feign death ready to go. However, being able to cleanse a large range of debuffs with stoneform could easily save your life, as well.

    If confident in your huntering - go night elves and enjoy your +9 agility If you are a little nervous - stoneform from the dwarves is a great choice (just don’t forget about the racial).

    Terms to knows


    This refers to the slow debuff of the same name. Dazes are a chance on a hit from the back. Additionally, hunters are afflicted with the dazed debuff if hit with an attack while having Aspect of the Cheetah active.


    Keeping dangerous enemies at a distance and killing them without taking damage or reducing damage taken.


    The act of melee attacking in between auto-shots, because ranged attack and melee attacks have separate swing timers. This can be done on the same target. You would auto-shot, run in, raptor strike, run out, auto-shot, repeat.

    However, this can be much more easily done on two targets - one mob on the hunter and one mob on the pet at ranged. Auto-shot the mob on the pet, swap targets to the one on yourself, raptor strike, swap back to the mob on the pet, auto-shot, repeat.

    Talent builds

    Level 10-20

    Beast Mastery is overwhelmingly the preferred talent tree to entirely fill out first. The pet scales extremely well while leveling and ramping up its damage, survivability, and utility will pay dividends.

    The first 10 talent points are actually a bit of preference. Improved aspect of the hawk is a very minor dps increase, while endurance can help prevent situations derailing.

    If a beginner or average hunter - go 5/5 endurance, 3/3 thick hide, and 2/2 improved pet revive. If you are an expert hunter you can instead opt for 5/5 improved aspect of the hawk, 3/3 thick hide, and 2/5 endurance.

    With your level 20 point, beastial swiftness is the best place.

    Level 20-40

    Filling out the lower tiers of the BM tree is what you want to do next. Prioritize talents that increase your pet’s damage (unleashed fury, ferocity, frenzy). Outside of that, you can pick the utility talents that you’d prefer with the most common choice being intimidation, 2/2 pathfinding, and 1/2 spirit bond - but you can instead put the spirit bond point into improved mend pet as this will assist with long duration debuffs in the late game zones.

    Level 20-40 Beast Mastery Talents

    Level 41-60

    Your final 20 points will most likely be spent in either marksmanship or survival. Survival has the good dps talents in the first tier humanoid slaying and monster slaying but is primarily utility talents. While marksmanship talents have some unique talents in hawk eye and aimed shot.

    Outside of marksmanship’s Improved Hunter’s Mark, Improved Arcane Shot, and survival’s Deflection - no talents in the first 3 tiers of marksmanship and survival are poor choices for these final points.

    Level 40-60 Beast Mastery Talents

    Important skills

    Auto shot

    This hunter ability allows the auto attacking of ranged attacks. Without the auto-shot macro, hitting the key twice will turn this off. Ranged attacks have the least miss penalty out of all physical abilities, due to not being eligible for dodges or parries, so hunters are uniquely adapted to more easily take on orange and red mobs (although still not advised).

    Arcane shot

    This instant shot is our bread and butter of extra ranged attacks. In general, dropping one on each mob with a serpent sting is the best play. However, if in a maximum dps scenario, it should obviously be used on cooldown.

    Beastial Wrath

    This late game talented spell massively increases the pet’s damage for the next 18 seconds, and makes the pet immune to slows, roots, and crowd control effects. The low cooldown means it should be used often.

    Concussive Shot

    This shot slows enemies. Its short cd allows it to help tremendously with kiting enemies, but it is obviously good in creating space between yourself and a foe in all circumstances.

    Feign death

    Feign Death allows the hunter to drop combat with enemies. This can be used to escape, get enemies off of you and back on your pet, or to quickly lay down a trap. All engaged enemies within 40 yards have a chance to resist the feign death, additionally, if any mobs that are social with each other successfully resist your feign death, they will “share” the feign death resist and all will continue to engage you. The base game will not notify you of a resisted Feign Death, however, there are weakauras to alert you. Due to this miss chance, do not rely on a Feign Death, often it’s better to use it early in a bad situation to see if it’s successful. You want to feign death outside of aggro range of the enemies original position, as you can’t move while feigning. If a hunter continues to feign for 6 full minutes, they will actually die - don’t go afk while feigning.

    Hunter's Mark

    This ability marks a target. That target takes increased ranged attack damage and will stay visible even if it stealths or goes invisible. Unlike most abilities, it won’t aggro the mobs.


    This stun executed by your pet is our only stun or interrupt outside of racials. When used the next hit from your pet will initiate the stun, so it needs to often be used slightly before you actually want the stun. Don’t forget the large amount of threat it gives to the pet.

    Rapid Fire

    This increased ranged shot speed cooldown is our only non-talented dps cooldown. Do note the increased shot speed only takes affect AFTER your next shot, so use it right before a shot for maximum use.

    Raptor Strike

    Raptor strike adds extra damage to a melee attack. What it also does is prevent glancing blows (similar to a warrior’s heroic strike) and has an additional 20% chance to crit when talented with the survival talent Savage Strikes. This makes raptor strike especially hard hitting when paired with a slow 2 handed weapon.

    Serpent Sting

    This DoT is another very common dps ability. It is also very good to keep up when kiting mobs where auto-shot may not be possible to weave in.

    Wing Clip

    This melee attacks slows the enemy by a large amount. Strafing and wing clipping is typically how you get an enemy out of melee range. For continued distance, once the wing clip debuff is falling off, you can follow up with a concussive shot.


    Hunters gain several types of tracking to use as they level. When a certain enemy type is tracked, it will appear as an icon on the minimap. This is unfortunately exclusive with tracking herbs or tracking mining nodes. These abilities have no combat applications with one exception: Track Hidden.

    Track Hidden adds all seeable stealthed enemies to the minimap. Additionally, it treats the hunter as five levels higher for purposes of increasing the range that the stealth mobs can be seen by the hunter. Whenever hunting for stealthed mobs, Track Hidden is a good idea to have active.


    Aspect of the Monkey

    The dodge chance given by this ability is great to reduce damage taken for mobs meleeing you. Outside of this circumstance, other aspects are better.

    Aspect of the Hawk

    The ranged attack power given by this aspect makes it the only aspect that increases damage done.

    Aspect of the Cheetah

    Aspect of the cheetah gives 30% movespeed (36% if 2/2 Pathfinding). The speed given by this aspect is a large part of why hunters are such fast levelers. Even after obtaining a mount, when moving between enemies, keeping aspect of the cheetah up and running is often faster than the delay tied to mounting.

    This ability allows hunters to outrun mostly anything. Kiting mobs is simple and safe, provided they don’t have any long ranged instant abilities to use on you.

    Any damage taken while aspect of the cheetah is active will incur a 4s massive slow. If kiting a mob or fleeing, this can be fatal. Care must be given when cheetah is active. Seasoned hunters will be often fast enough to hit the keybinding to turn off cheetah as a projectile is en route. For this reason, using a macro for your aspect of the hawk is advised, as it will have a built in cheetah canceller. This allows the canceling of cheetah, even when out of mana or during a global. Watch out for those deadly campfires…


    Immolation Trap

    This trap puts a strong DoT on the target. Immolation trap does a large amount of damage over its duration. While it’s mana cost and the preparation time for traps make it impractical to use for every mob, it should always be used on more formidable enemies.

    Freezing Trap

    This freezes a single enemy who walks into it. A common strategy if planning on taking on two mobs is to put a freezing trap between yourself and the enemies, send pet on mob 1, multi-shot, this will mostly likely get mob 2 to focus on you (but not mob 1), mob 2 runs toward you, mob 2 gets stuck in the freeze trap. Now you have effectively taken that mob out of the fight for the duration of the freezing trap.

    Frost Trap

    Frost trap, once activated, creates a large slow zone for a long duration. This makes it effective to plan for a dangerous getaway or controlling a large amount of enemies at once. Paired with the survival talent Entrapment, it can also periodically root enemies, turning the slow zone into a nightmare for enemy mobs. However, be aware of non-engaged mobs wandering into the activated zone as they will aggro onto you.

    Immolation Trap

    Explosive trap does a burst of fire damage on all mobs in an area and then puts DoT on all of them, similarly to a Mage's flamestrike. It is one of our few AoE abilities.


    Overwhelmingly the best choices for hardcore hunters are Mining and Engineering. Engineering offers immense utility and AoE damage that hunters lack. Making guns and ammo is a minor benefit, as well.

    The other mainstream hardcore profession, Alchemy, is a poor choice for hunters as damage increasing potions aren’t till late game, hunters often take little damage so armor/health/regen don’t really help, and there isn’t a way to get your pet to get these buffs.

    Pet guide

    Pets are powerful and complicated. Don’t fret though - there are a lot of ways to do pets right and very few ways to do them wrong.

    The most common pets are boars, cats, and owls/batscarrion birds. Boars have charge to close distance, root, and give a burst of threat. Cats are the kings of overall damage. Finally, owls/carrion birds have screech - this gives minor AoE threat and is a large increase in survivability.

    Happiness and Food

    All pets need food for happiness. Happiness is in 3 tiers - happy (125% damage and additional loyalty points, content (100% damage and minor additional loyalty points, unhappy (75% damage and subtracting loyalty points). If you accumulate enough loyalty points (and a little bit of experience), your pet will move up loyalty levels, this gives more training points and thus, you can teach your pet more resistances and abilities.

    Simply find the food that your pet likes, click your feed pet ability, and click the food. Higher level food gives more happiness to your pet, so keep the food within 10 levels of yourself. Pets lose happiness on death, so get in the habit of feeding your pet immediately after you revive it.

    Which pet do I choose?

    There are essentially three factors to weigh when choosing a pet - family, attack speed, and looks. We’ll walk through these, but don’t get it twisted - if you want a certain pet for your own reasons, go for it!

    Pet families are the largest difference between different pets. All pet families have stat modifiers on them, certain foods they like, and certain abilities that can be learned.

    Pet Family Stat Modifiers

    Do note an armor of 1.05 doesn’t mean the pet takes 5% less physical damage than a normal pet, it instead means the pet has 5% more armor - which translates to about 1% less damage from physical attacks. For this reason, health is FAR more impactful on survivability than armor.

    Pet abilities

    All pets have some abilities that they can and can’t use. However, the most unique of the abilities are a boar’s charge, owls and carrion bird’s screech, gorilla’s thunderstomp, scorpid’s scorpid poison, wind serpent’s ranged lightning breath, and a wolf’s furious howl.

    Pet attack speed

    Pet attack speeds are independent of their families, but there are still trends. For example, cats tend to attack fast while bears tend to attack slow. There are several VERY MINOR considerations with attack speed, but the short answer is that slow attack speed is better before obtaining the Frenzy talent, while fast attack speed is better after. This difference is so minor that changing your current pet isn’t worth it for most people.

    Dealing with danger

    Hunters are professionals at getting out of tight spots. It can even be hard to remember all the tools we do have to save our lives.

    Firstly, never hesitate to sacrifice the pet to get to safety. I’ve talked it over with your best friend and he wants it this way. If you can even create enough distance between you and your pet, your pet will despawn and can simply be re-summoned with Call Pet. You sent your pet into some enemies and he aggro’d several extra? - Leave him and run. He can be revived, you cannot.

    Aspect of the cheetah enables you to outrun nearly all enemies. Just make sure nothing is meleeing you and no ranged mobs are targeting you as the daze can spell disaster. If melee mobs are on you - don’t panic - wing clip, strafe away, concussive once the mobs are far enough away, THEN you should turn on your aspect of the cheetah to create even more distance. If multiple enemies are hitting you, you can wing clip them all or even use a grenade, then use cheetah to get away.

    Feign Death will reset enemy mobs most of the time (after they kill your pet, anyway). Use it when things are dicey and outright sprinting away isn’t an option.

    Even if running and feign death aren’t options, our pet can still save us. In a deep cave and pet just pulled several mobs? Just hearth out.

    Stat analysis

    Stats for hunters are fairly simple - agility is king. It gives 2 ranged attack power and crit on all ranged attacks. As far as other stats, spirit is impactful because hunters often go without casts for a full 5 seconds even when attacking a mob. Stamina obviously increases your survivability. However, pets don’t scale off the hunter’s stats.

    Hardcore Hunter Leveling Guide

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    Important Macros

    Avoid accidentally turning off Auto-shot

    #showtooltip Auto Shot /cast !Auto Shot

    Melee Attacks

    /startattack /cast Raptor Strike /cast Counterattack /cast Mongoose Bite

    Feign Death + Trap (Freezing Trap as an example, spam click)

    #showtooltip Freezing Trap /cast Feign Death /petpassive /cast Freezing Trap

    Pet Attack

    !petattack /cast Charge /cast Dash /cast Dive

    Pet passive

    !petpassive /Cast Dive /Cast Dash

    Eagle Eye (For Consecutive Eagle Eyes)

    #showtooltip /cast !Eagle Eye

    Aspect of the Hawk/Monkey (Swaps Between the Two)

    #showtooltip /cancelaura Aspect of the Cheetah /cast Aspect of the Hawk /cast Aspect of the Monkey