When I started playing, back in the heady just-pre TBC days (and then through TBC) hunters were everywhere. The character creator screen even gives you gentle encouragement to create one, saying they are good for "solo play and levelling". Pretty much everyone I know has a hunter alt kicking around somewhere and through TBC they appeared to many people's choice of main. Post Wrath this seems to have changed and now everyone has a Death Knight (that they play with varying degrees of success). Hunters used to err on the redheaded stepchild side, if you were PuGing and up rolled a hunter... well you sighed a little and kept your fingers crossed (now also Death Knight territory). I used to wonder why they had this rep, and then I grouped with a few randoms and watched the Other Half curse: pets with growl on, hunters who didn't know what the Misdirect button was for (true story, on one of my early guild runs into Kara, at Midnight and Attumen, the RL said "and 'hunter' will MD onto 'tank'" and hunter piped up with "What's MD?" [even after the explanation it continued to be a hard concept to grasp] and you could feel the raid grind it's collective teeth), hunters who didn't trap, didn't know how to LoS etc etc. We've all met them.
Then I met a few wonderful hunters and they made up for every fail ever made by all the other hunters in the world. As a healing priest I always had a freezing trap at my feet. They took pride in their ability to kite, chain trap, LoS pull and do excellent DPS at the same time. They adored their classes abilities. And they were engineers. Group wiping? /cast Feign Death and then jump start the priest. I adored them and took back every huntard comment I had ever made (well, nearly all of them anyways).
I met my favourite hunter while bored, between guilds and PuGing one of the Hellfire instances (I should know which one but I was never a great fan of any of them and they kinda roll into one in my head). He was on his druid at the time mind you, but I thought he was huge fun (it's fab when you meet random people that you just have that indefinable 'click' with isn't it?) and cheekily sent him an ingame mail asking if his guild ever needed a priest to look me up. I joined the guild the next day, the Other Half joined a few days later... and I discovered his main was a hunter. We ran all the Outland instances over and over (mainly out of boredom waiting from Wrath to hit), levelled through the Wrath instances on normal and then repeatedly on Heroic. He was an utter charmer who (un)fortunately decided sometime back to re-roll Real Life but he will always be the guy I associate the best players of the hunter class with. His only drawback was to take personally every nerf doled out to BM hunters and he hated Ghostcrawler with a passion which I always sympathised with but never quite understood....
He was also the guy that, at the point where one of the staples of our 5 man group decided he wanted to respec his shaman to resto and heal with him, took my priest by the hand and showed my how to play as a DPS class. Not that he knew anything about shadow priests mind, but he felt it was necessary that I was saved from future ass-hattery and being 'that girl' who thought the only thing worth doing in a group as DPS was topping the meters. He explained about when to single target, when (and how) to switch targets, when it was ok to AoE, about threat, Omen and boss mechanics. As a healer I had less than no clue. During instances and raids, all I looked at was the ticking of the health bars (and occasionally the Bad Stuff on the floor). He was utterly determined that I should understand the DPS mechanics that to him were universal and transcended class and spec. I hope that he taught me well.
But back to hunters. I had rolled and rerolled hunters as alts so many times. And never gotten them much past 30. This might have something to do with the fact that I levelled a 'lock as my first character and had that slight 'minions are better than pets' thing going on. Ok maybe not 'better' per se, they just appealed to me more. On a number of levels, hunters should appeal. I like solo game play, pets do appeal as God only knows I need something that can melee for me, pets have phenomenal situational variety and use (and sometimes are soooo pretty!), the stats aren't that complex and on and on. But I just always get to that same 'meh' point. In fairness I do with many classes, the 30-40 levelling point for me is the point that I've failed many an alt at (must be something to do with the zones at that point?) but hunters have never held my attention past 30.
So now I have a mission. The Other Half, natch, has a level 80 hunter and enjoys playing them so we have both rolled a hunter. They're currently about level 17 and to break the mould I have a scorpid pet (every other hunter has had a version of a kitty or a bear). I am resolutely going down the Beast Mastery tree as I long for a white two headed dog. Even after being told that they're hopeless pets. What can I say, I'm stubborn. The Other Half, meantime, is being reasonable and going Survival. This week I also read this which has decided me. I will get this one to 80 so I can go and see content I've not seen. And whilst I am highly unlikely to solo it as the Other Half will doubtless come as well it'll still be fun. Eventually. However, the Other half is requesting that we start to two-man the lower level instances, such as Wailing Caverns fairly soon so I get used to trapping and stuff. And that reminds me, I guess I need to go and learn first aid and start getting that levelled as well. And before you ask, yes, she is an engineer!