So you have picked your race, made your new toon, and spawned as a level one hunter. (Maybe on a certain server to /wave at some fellow bloggers, but that's beside the point!)
First thing's first, move things around the way you like them. Me: I move Auto Shot to "2" and Raptor Strike to "3", and racial abilities (such as Gift of the Naaru) move to the side. You can unlock and lock the action bars under Options -> Interface, which is also where you can add more action bars.
I also move my quiver over the the left-most bag slot.
There we go!
Now you accept your first quests and start shooting things. Now, there are ways to kite right from level one that will ensure you rarely get hit. Myself, I'm going to say that if you have never played a hunter before and are just starting out, you don't have to worry about being perfect at this point. So if your character pops in an "accidental melee" or two, don't beat yourself up over it... anyways, it's good to have that skill when you learn Wing Clip later.
However, you should never have to use Raptor Strike. It's true!
Get as far away as you can from what you want to shoot and still be able to use your Auto-Shot. Typically the Auto-Shot icon will be red or otherwise grayed out if you can't use it. Once you are at maximum range, fire away!
Now, you have a couple different options here to keep your mob decently at range at this point. The easiest method is to simply back up. Now remember that you cannot fire your Auto-Shot while moving, but you will notice that as the mob gets close to you, it will typically pause for a bit to attack, and that's when you can back up to regain some range and pop in an extra shot-- often enough to finish it off, at these early levels.
If you are feeling a little more adventurous, you can try your hand at strafe-kiting. To strafe, press the Q and E buttons. By strafing and then occasionally stopping to shoot, you can typically keep the enemy at range.
Feel free to practice these two methods and remember, don't worry if you get hit, it's not a particularly huge deal at level one, after all!
Go turn in your quest once you're finished up. When picking your first quest reward, remember that hunters cannot wear mail armor until level 40, so you will want to stick with leather.
By now you should have ding'ed level two, so do your little quest that takes you to the hunter trainer, and see what they've got for you to learn!
At level 2 you learn one spell: Track Beasts. Pop it on as soon as you learn it by way of the "tracking" button by the minimap, you can right click on it to select what you are tracking.
Your general strategy will remain the same until level 4, when you learn Aspect of the Monkey and Serpent Sting. Pop on Aspect of the Monkey and keep it on-- you will want an Aspect on at basically all times from here on out. Serpent Sting is going to be your opener in most solo situations for the majority of your hunter career (once you hit the 60s you will probably be using it less and less; possibly not at all.) Remember not to use it if you are going to be trapping, though-- because DoTs will break your trap. But you don't have to worry about that for a while yet.
So at level four, your strategy will be to get at max range, open with a Serpent Sting, and practice keeping the mob away from you.
See? No Raptor Strike!
Oh, and don't forget to keep tabs on your ammo, and buy some if needed! You can buy some at a General Supplies vendor. Many first-time hunters forget about Ammo and wind up Ammo-less mid-quest. Don't let it happen to you! *taps chalkboard with stick for emphasis*
Once you get to level five, you get to choose your professions. The typical money-makers are skinning/herbalism and skinning/mining. (You can also opt for herbalism/mining but you can't track both things at once-- then again, as a hunter, you will usually be tracking non-profession things anyway.)
If you opt to go for a crafting profession, your three best bets as a hunter are probably leatherworking, which grants you the ability to make your own gear (including mail later on), engineering, which lets you make your own ammo, guns, and Goblin Jumper Cables (as well as a variety of other toys), and alchemy, which allows you to make your own elixirs and potions. All of the other professions (with the exception of tailoring, unless you are a bag-junkie or something) can also provide some sort of benefit to a hunter but the three mentioned are your best bets.
While you're at it, it would be a good idea to pick up First Aid, which will be very handy for healing yourself as you quest, and even for backup healing your pet. Cooking and fishing both have benefits (and their products can be used as pet food!) but I don't see them as being particularly critical right off the bat, especially because food is so easy to attain most of the time.
Well, that does it for this installment of "So You Want to be a Hunter". Leave me
Oh, and lastly, to the person who got to my blog via the search term "how can i play Ocarina of time with a steady shot on the keyboard"