Kalven was my first character when I started playing again in 2010, and I chose the name because I also wanted an orange striped tiger named Hobs, so the both of them together are an homage to Bill Waterson, of course.
I raided ToC and ICC as SV early on, switching to MM when I had 400 passive ArPen (ask your parents). In Cata, I rode the SV OP wave in T11, switched back to MM for T12, switching back to SV for T13. I also did PvP in rated BG's as BM at first for the damage, switching to MM for the utility. I haven't done much in MoP but craft a bit of LW goods for the AH. I just started outfitting myself for some PvP, so whenever Tyrannical gear becomes available for Honor, I'll start that gear grind and see where it takes me.
I'll go through my favorite pets, as they also tell part of the Hunter's story:
Hobs is my oldest pet. I had to travel all the way to the Echo Isles as a level 12 hunter to get an orange tiger before leveling through Stranglethorn Vale. When no particular buff or ability is needed, Hobs is out. I leveled with Hobs in Wrath, because I found questing with a ferocity pet taking mobs one at a time was faster than with a tenacity pet, and a cat was also better for dungeons.
Aroo is my third wolf, after trying out a warhound from Hellfire Ramps, and a random worg before that from Northrend. I needed a wolf for ICC, as I was getting serious about raiding, and wolf was the best pet at the time. He's a prairie wolf from Mulgore, so he barks when clicked on. I kept him on my short list raiding through Cata, as he still had a very useful buff, and I even keep him around in PvP, since I can call him, get the buff, dismiss and call another pet and still have the crit buff.
Soap stand for Snakes on a Plane. It's a flying snake. Harhar. I needed the buff, as I was playing SV at the release of Cata, so I tried a few skins and stuck with red. I never liked this pet, for the longest time. I resented having to use a cunning pet to get the best debuff when no one else had it. The looks never endeared to me, and neither did any others (not a fan of dragonhawks either). It was just a raid tool, for the longest time. Over time, I decided it was a she (hard to tell), and she has earned her place in my stables. She's ugly and annoying, but she can now be ferocity, and probably has the third most boss kills out of all my pets.
Ed is my second Ed, actually. He originally was a red hyena from Scholomance, but that pet changed into a dog in Cata, so I had to go find a new hyena. I just tamed the first one I saw, not worried about color. Grey is cool too. Ed was my MM pet through Cata, since he brought the +bleed damage taken debuff, which was especially useful for adds.
Beeblebrox is my plain old corehound. Back in 2006, when I was raiding MC for the first time, I wanted one of these as a pet. People said it would never happen. Well, now I have a corehound! He actually hasn't been needed much while raiding, as I rarely raided without someone having Hero. Still, he's on call.
Citrus and Berry are the two unique-skinned taming challenges from Molten Front. I had other spiders before them, but these two made an especially good team when I got into rated BG's in 4.3. I would use one Web to peel a healer or root an EFC, dismiss and call the other out, and have a second Web available while the first was on cooldown. I was a Webbing machine.
Pockethealer is my first spirit beast, tamed in Wrath and I've used him most in PvP. Defending a flag alone in Arathi is easier when I can heal myself and last just a bit longer, maybe long enough to fire another Explosive Trap on the flag, keeping it from getting capped for 20 more seconds. I knew I was a tripwire at Stables. I did the job, dammit!
Warpaint is special to me, not just for how beautiful he is, but because two other players were asking for a healer's help killing a rare (I was on my Priest), and I accepted the summons. I saw them pull Ban'thalos, and I pleaded with them not to kill him, but they told me to shut up and heal. I didn't, of course, but they got the kill anyway. It was Teo from Late Night Sorcery and Nucoma from Death's Raiders. Bastards. I got the tame later anyway, so to me, he lives. He's my second-string spirit beast in PvP, giving me a second heal.
Ripper is my new armor debuff pet, because he applies all three stacks at once and to all enemies in a 10 yard radius. My first was a raptor, but I hardly ever used him. Now I'll be keeping this guy around since it's AoE version is great for new packs of adds in PvE and for grouped up players in random battlegrounds. I still don't expect to use him very much, but he's cute, and he's on standby.
Other Hunters of note that I have crossed paths with in game are Ivlvp from Ephemera, who was a great PvP player, and I'm currently raiding with Candybites (Lala) in Egalitarian Misathropes, who brings great DPS.
Some of the Hunter bloggers I've followed over the years are, of course, the Hunting Party Podcast crew: Frostheim at WHU and WoW Insider (recently retired from blogging), Darkbrew at The Brew Hall, and Euripides at OutDPS. I also have followed Kalliope, Laeleiweyn (and her extensive blog list), and Garwulf at Huntsman's Lodge. I read the Petopia forums and frequently check the Warcraft Hunter's Hall for updates.
I think evey Hunter, of any spec is part Beastmaster, part Marksman, part Survivalist. Any Hunter who doesn't manage their pet, maximize their shot rotation, and utilize their traps is only gimping themselves. Let the other classes specialize themselves so extremely. Hunters are masters of the wild and of combat, and we should use all tools at our disposal.
Hunters also come from every race but Gnomes, so there's already great diversity in lore to draw from. Some races especially revere Hunters. Tauren have The Great Hunt, which is central to their originally nomadic culture. Blood Elves have the Farstriders. The Forsaken are lead by a former Ranger-General. There are other famous Hunters, like Brann Bronzebeard, and Vol'jin in a way (though more of a Shadow Hunter).
A Beastmaster Hunter invests much more into their pet than other Hunters, primarily through how much damage is done by the pet. Loose the pet, or even just loose time-on-target by the pet and DPS suffers. Bringing unique raid tools and buffs are another distinct advantage that makes BM popular, even when it isn't the best DPS spec.
Beastmaster started in Classic as "the leveling spec", a reputation that still holds, but had it's time on top of the DPS charts in BC and early Wrath. It didn't recovered from that nerf in Wrath until MoP came out, and in MoP it's had a resurgence in popularity. Always, though, some die-hard BM Hunters maintained the spec through every tier. They're probably the most dedicated class/spec in the game.
Marksman relies fully on maintaining a tight rotation, keeping Improved Steady Shot up, dumping focus with Arcane or Aimed, depending on the situation. They've also been "gear-dependant" in certain raiding content, meaning that a Hunter needed a certain threshold of stats before it became the superior spec. It has also been considered more skill dependent, especially during Cata, when the rotation became fairly complicated.
Marksman is often seen as the "proper" Hunter spec, in part due to it's dominance in raiding through Classic and Wrath, and even some of Cata, but in MoP, it's not very low, but low enough that not many play it. It was also the most popular PvP spec for a long time, since Readiness and Silencing Shot were invaluable in PvP, and other specs didn't get those abilities until MoP.
Survival has been described as the red-headed step-child of the specs, as it's theme and appeal, for some reason, isn't immediately obvious to most players. It's an evolved spec. Currently what defines it is it's extra DoT Black Arrow, it's proc Lock and Load, and most especially it's AoE Serpent Spread. Some consider it the easiest to play.
It wasn't always easy, though. In Classic, it was very nearly a useless spec. It had some melee abilities, some PvP abilities, and seems to have been designed as a melee/ranged hybrid. This is no longer the case. After many redesigns, it's purely a ranged spec, and it's uniqueness has changed over the expansions. In BC and Wrath, it brought the Replenishment buff to raids. In Cata, it changed to the attack speed buff, but was still useful. In MoP, not much sets it apart anymore except it's unique rotation. SV has also never really been a PvP spec, since it never had the burst damage of BM or the utility of MM, but perhaps that has changed in MoP. I'll have to check it out.