That's right, we're gettin' you to level 60 today. Mostly because you simply do not learn a whole lot of abilities in your 40s and 50s. Here's what your trainer is going to give you:
Aspect of the Wild at level 46. This will give you, your pet, and your group a whole lotta nature resistance. If you group a lot, you will sometimes be asked to use it in various PvE situations; for example, the end boss of Slave Pens, or Hydross the Unstable in Serpentshrine Cavern (yeah that's a long ways off, but see, some of your most random abilities go a long way!) I also use it when solo'ing sometimes if there's a big poison on me or my pet, or are otherwise fighting something that does lots of nature damage. Other than that, you won't be using it all that much. I have heard it said that it lessens the effects of hunter stings and rogue poisons in PvP but I haven't tried this and honesty I think there are probably better aspects you could be using. (Hawk/Monkey/Viper, depending on your situation.)
Track Dragonkin at level 50. This is your last tracking spell, grats on getting it! If you are Alliance, go into Stormwind Keep and pop Track Dragonkin. No wonder Lady Prestor is so grumpy all the time eh?
And finally, Tranquilizing Shot at level 60. This shot is going to get some love in Wrath of the Lich King but until then it is mostly going to be one of your Things You Never Use. In its present incarnation, it removes frenzy effects from certain mobs and those mobs are in a limited number. I believe I've used it twice total, once on a boss in Molten Core and once, just for kicks, on one of those undead horses in Karazhan:
Me: "Hey [tank]."
Me: "I just used Tranquilizing Shot."
Tank: "...you did what?"
Now right around in here is also when you will probably be learning your top-tier talent in your chosen talent tree. Let's talk about 'em a little. The Beast Within is my personal favorite because it's exciting and also sort of an "I win" button in a lot of situations. It gets you out of CC and makes you un-CCable for 18 seconds, it lessens the mana cost of all your abilities, and increases your damage output.
In PvE use it when you need to kill something fast, if you want your pet to nab more threat but your Intimidation is on cooldown-- and in instances/raids I use it basically anytime it's up so long as the following conditions are met: the tank has a bunch of aggro, and it's not going to be wasted (using The Beast Within when the mob is going to die in three seconds, for example, is not ideal.)
In PvP use it when you're heavily CC'd, fighting a warlock, need to kill something fast, or when you want to annoy the living heck outta rogues/warriors. Typical Line Running Through Pike's Head In That Last Situation: "Oh you think you can slow me huh? Oh I THINK NOT! I'ma kite you I'ma kite you I'ma kiiiiite you~"
Marksman hunters get Silencing Shot. Now this is going to turn into a "real interrupt" in Wrath of the Lich King, until then it's still a lot of fun in my humble opinion. Some of my earliest Alterac Valley jaunts were spent as Marksman and those were the days, Silencing Shotting priests to my little huntery heart's content. Also super useful for pulling casters when trapping them in PvE. Overall Silencing Shot is probably one of my favorite things from the Marksman tree.
Survival gets Readiness. The "usefulness" of this ability often seems to be debated, but while I haven't ever used it myself it seems to me to me to be something that could really save your rear sometimes. Trap resist and your new trap is still on cooldown? Bam, readiness, new trap. Or double-Deterrence "tanking" in an emergency. Stuff like that. Still, a lot of people opt to skip this one in favor of other talents.
Well, that'll do ya 'til 60. Your basic Shot Rotation and playstyle is still going to be basically the same-- your world hasn't changed quite yet for another couple of levels.
Things to do between levels 40 and 60:
"The Hunter's Charm": a questline that starts at any hunter trainer while you are in your 50s, this will take you to Azshara and eventually into Sunken Temple and culminates in a handy hunter trinket of your choice.
Alterac Valley: All my hunters get Ice Barbed Spear, that's just how it goes. Some people opt to get the bow instead; it's hard-hitting but in all honesty the stats are not as good and it is slooooow as all heck, which means if you are Beast Master you will eventually run into some issues down the road. That's far down the road though, by which time you will probably have a new bow. So pick what you want, especially because sometimes you will get lucky and find something with similar stats to my beloved Spear on the Auction House. Oh, and you get one of these rewards by winning an Alterac Valley. Pick up the quest at your faction's AV entrance at level 51.
My Ice Barbed Spear is still in the bank. I loved it dearly. I'm tellin' ya though: come Wrath of the Lich King, our love will be reignited.
Well, that'll do it for this time. Grats on getting your hunter to level 60! And thanks for sticking with me on this project! For those who want to catch up, here's where we're at currently:
So You Want to Play a Hunter?
Part One: Introduction & The Birth of a Hunter
Part Two: Just Starting Out & Levels 1-5
Part Three: Levels 6-10 and Jump Shot Kiting
Part Four: Talent Points & Pets
Part Five: Life With a Pet
Part Six: Levels 12-20
Part Seven: Intro to Freezing Trap
Part Eight: Levels 21-30
Part Nine: Levels 31-40
Part Ten: Levels 41-60 [Current]
See you next time! /salute