May 11th 2009 9:46PM As someone who's played a hunter from the first day WoW was online, I feel that the class was originally envisioned as a hybrid ranged/melee/pet dps class. The marksman tree was supposed to enhance ranged abilities, the survival tree melee, and the beastmaster tree pet abilities. But since a hunter's melee dps scales very poorly and our mail isn't good enough to take much aggro, everyone played it as a ranged dps class and Blizzard abandoned the survival tree.
Now survival is back, of course, but the philosophy is different. Hunter trees now consist of "ranged with pets", "ranged without pets", and "other ranged without pets". Rather uncreative if you ask me.
While I'm complaining about Blizzard's lack of vision for hunters, I should add that the class needs a larger variety of pet-healing spells, just like they've given us more than one way to generate threat. Hunters with their pets are, after all, a tank/healer/dps team in one.
May 11th 2009 9:40PM In almost all the Naxx raids I've pugged, warlocks and rogues were at the top. My DPS as a beastmaster hunter is always competitive though, even though I've only got average gear.