The Hunter class performs kiting, threat redirection, crowd control, and primarily ranged damage. Hunters have pets that add to their DPS and help manage aggro. They can also track, tame and train animals and beasts found in the wild. The well trained pet, on countless occasions, has saved a hunter's life. It has been said by many, and throughout history, that hunters consider their weapons and pets to be their only true friends. In World of Warcraft, this is generally not the case. The survival tree offers some enhancement to melee ability, but the class's damage mitigation is poor compared to most pure melee classes and its melee abilities are generally considered too limited to be a practical source of DPS. For this reason, a hunter's melee attack is typically a last resort used only when his pet cannot keep threat on itself.
Hunters tame the wild beasts of Kalimdor, Eastern Kingdoms, Outland and Northrend, training them to fight at their side. Hunters are one of five classes that can have controllable combat pets, however, they are the only ones that can name, feed, and assign talent points to their pets. Hunters would do well to pay attention to their pets' happiness. Hunters excel in outdoor survival skills, such as tracking and laying traps. Hunters wear leather and cloth armor until level 40, at which they gain access to equipping mail armor. Hunters start with a two-handed axe and a gun, crossbow, or bow. With training, they can learn all other weapon skills except wands, maces, and two-handed maces. They are unable to use shields or plate armor. Hunters use many shots that either deal damage or apply a status effect that costs mana to use. Most other abilities are free to use such as Mend Pet or their Trap abilities. Hunters can take on various Animal Aspects that grant special abilities, such as improved run speed, or additional nature resistance. Hunters are arguably the most fun and versatile class for world-leveling, especially on a PvP server. Want to go somewhere, but worried about enemy players? Use Eagle Eye. Need to scout somewhere too specific to be pinpointed by Eagle Eye? Use Eyes of the Beast instead. Stuck in one of those mob-heavy places, where if there was too much distance between you and your pet, you would pull more than you could handle? No problem, you have a few melee abilities for when it's absolutely necessary to use them.
The Hunter is a stalker in the wilds, living on his knowledge of survival and skill with a bow or rifle. He is deeply in tune with nature, and some of its mightiest beasts are his allies. Of Azeroth's many creatures, few can resist the Hunter's call, and fewer can survive his fury. Hunters are as varied as the world's many climates, but they are universally renowned for their amazing abilities to find their prey and bring it down. They come from any race (players are restricted to seven races, see below), though certain races naturally excel at the Hunter's profession. Most Hunters seek to aid the balance of nature along with their druidic allies. Elven rangers are not alone in their mastery of the wilderness. While an elven ranger prefers the bow, the Hunter would rather get up close. A Hunter is skilled in stealth, slipping through the woods like a ghost. Orcs of the Horde first learned the ways of the Hunter from forest trolls on Lordaeron and Tauren have been masters of the hunt since the dawn of the world. Like the shaman of the Horde, Hunters call upon the spirits of the land, wind, and fire to aid them in their hunts and tasks. Their spells focus on the elements and the land.
The Hunter is one of the oldest classes in history. They represent a deep connection between man and beast, and the Hunters of Warcraft are not merely individuals who track animals and slay them for food, but custodians of balance. They understand the natural circle of life and death, and the part they must play in maintaining it not simply as researchers, but as active participants. The "Hunt" is venerated, and the prey they choose to stalk is given as much respect as the predators Hunters choose to learn from and embody. All Hunters create lifelong friendships with animal companions, who are also often their best and only friends, if the stereotype of the reclusive huntsman is to be believed. Hunters come in all shapes, forms, sizes and specialties, but in World of Warcraft, all Hunters specialize to be marksmen (however, not all Hunters choose to specialize in the marksmanship talent tree). Hunters are a curious mix of mysticism and rough wilderness know-how. They can learn to mystically align themselves with the aspects of various animals to assist them: the spryness of a monkey, the sharp eyes of a hawk, and the swiftness of a cheetah; they gift themselves with a higher resistance against the dangers of the most important thing of all in the rites of a Hunter — the very Wilds he and his prey live in. Hunters also derive a system of hand-to-hand combat inspired by the attacks and counterattacks of various animals, and use magically empowered traps to maim and snare their prey. They have various shots imbued with magic or explosives to snare, poison, handicap and disorient their targets. They can even hold their breath and slow their heartbeat to a highly infrequent, inconsequential tap to give their pursuers the impression that they are dead. The Hunter is the choice of life for those who reject societies that oppress the natural role as prey and Hunter, and also reject the druidic stance that we should be healers and observers rather than active participants in the "Great Hunt". They follow a life of reverence for nature complimenting their tradition and willingness to use man-made tools. We are all tool-using creatures after all, and it is only natural to use that advantage afforded by nature to be better Hunters, though there are also many Hunters who prefer a more direct approach to tracking and hunting.
Note: The term "Hunter" can refer to the combat class, as well as to those who go hunting as a profession, hobby, or survival skill. The two are not identical, as not all that hunt are a Hunter class. The above lore only refers to the specific class.