Note: This guide is a bit out of date, and I'll be updating the site with some better builds soon.
The Beast Mastery talent tree is considered by most hunters to be nothing more than a novelty spec, used only when a new patch (and spirit beast) comes out. With the right talent build, gear, and some gameplay tips to keep in mind, you'll have the perfect excuse to give those spirit beasts some well deserved exercise! I've broken this post down into the following sections: Hunter Talents, Pet Talents, Glyphs, Stats, and Shot Rotation.
The BM hunter's damage revolves around stacked attack power, their high rate of fire (and pet attacks), critical strikes (benefitting from the fast attack speed), and maximized pet damage. Their burst damage can be huge, but sustained damage is also quite high simply due to the nature of the build.
One of the most important things to remember for the BM hunter is in order to be effective, you're essentially going to be pushing your pet's damage with trigger skills, and vice versa. With that in mind, let's get started with our point allocation.
Because you'll be doing a lot of white damage with this spec and since you'll naturally have a faster attack speed than survival and marksmanship hunters, you'll be seeing this skill proc a lot. It's also the only alternative to Endurance Training, which you simply won't need because of the way your pet works -- it won't be getting hit by anything other than AoE attacks in raids, and if it is, a 10% hit point boost won't make a difference (and neither will a 5% for you)!
The 2% damage increase is nice, but this is especially helpful for the 20% critical strike chance when Kill Command is active. Pet criticals can be benefical not only for damage, but also your mana regeneration as you'll see later.
Your pet is going to be roughly half your damage, so you need to keep it alive! You simply don't need any points in Improved Aspect of the Monkey because you shouldn't be getting hit anyway, so this is the obvious choice as you move down the tree.
Although not really essential, your pet is going to be taking damage far more often than you are (which still shouldn't be very often), so why not give it a 7% armor bonus while moving down the tree?
As a BM hunter, attack power is your friend. As you'll see later, your pet is going to benefit a lot from high attack power thanks to extra AP contribution. The 30% AP bonus for Aspect of the Dragonhawk is essential!
Another skill that significantly benefits pet damage, you're going to want to max this out.
The mana reduction of this skill is nice, but in the big picture of things, doesn't really matter. The important thing about this skill is the 25% chance to remove a debuff on each tick. As a hunter, you should already be pretty used to your pet being neglected by fellow raid members (cleansing included). Curses are one of the few things that can kill your pet fairly quickly in a raid, and this almost guarantees that at least one will be removed every 15 seconds. You could argue that 2/2 would be even better, but we're going to want to spend that point elsewhere.
There's that pet critical strike chance again. You're going to see benefits from pet critical strike primarily with Ferocious Inspiration, as well as Culling the Herd and Invigoration, so max this skill out!
You actually won't end up using this skill much in raids, but it's a requirement for the essential Bestial Wrath, and a pretty useful skill for soloing and PvP.
This skill provides a massive benefit to your pet, giving them a ton more focus to dump into Claw and Bite. Don't waste your points in Spirit Bond -- you shouldn't have a tough time staying alive, and neither should your pet, and a small percentage increase simply won't make a difference anyway.
You're going to want this skill for the pet attack power bonus. The duration increase for Master's Call is pretty useful, but it's been my experience that you won't be using this skill a lot in PvE with some exceptions, and even then, it's not essential. This is all about maximizing your pet's damage to make them worthwhile.
While some would argue that 4/5 is sufficient, I've found that maxing this skill out is more beneficial than anywhere else you could put the point in the tree thus far. For example, in fights like Keristrasza in The Nexus (where you'll need to pull your pet back every couple seconds and send them in to attack again), or fights like the Faction Champs (where your pet will likely be feared/CCed every few seconds), having the extra point ensures that every time your pet has a chance to attack, they'll likely have a 30% speed increase. The extra point could be allocated to Improved Mend Pet, but when in doubt, always go for damage!
If your raid members realized you were giving them essentially a 3% damage increase, they'd probably love you, but chances are they aren't even aware of the buff because BM hunters seem so rare these days. Regardless, it's a huge bonus, especially in 25mans, and it also increases Arcane Shot's damage by 9%, which is your primary "special" shot.
Your pet will not feel pity, remorse or fear, and cannot be stopped unless killed. That's really all that needs to be said. This is the skill that makes a BM hunter, and with bonuses from Longevity and Glyph of Bestial Wrath you'll be using this skill nearly every minute. Even though the duration was reduced from 18 seconds to 10, it's still THE beast master skill, and still extremely powerful.
I'll admit that while this skill isn't essential in 25 man raids, it absolutely proves its usefulness in heroics and 10mans, as mana regeneration can be more of an issue. The point could also be put in a skill like Catlike Reflexes, but if you're unsure I would at least recommend trying a build with it, and without. You'll see the difference.
Essential. Ranged and pet attack speed benefit your overall damage as well as your skill procs.
Another huge bonus not only for you, but for your pet. The 30% cooldown of your Bestial Wrath coupled with Glyph of Bestial Wrath will ensure that you can pop Bestial Wrath several times within a single boss fight.
Passive constant 10% damage bonus for you and another 10% when you've popped Bestial Wrath. A lot of people felt that the duration reduction of Bestial Wrath was a nerf for hunters, and in some cases (Beast cleave arena teams) it probably was, but the overall damage bonus only helps constant DPS.
This talent should give you a good idea what your shot rotation should look like. Ensures that as long as you're doing your job, so will your pet, providing obvious benefits to any skills that rely on pet critical strike (Ferocious Inspiration, Invigoration, Culling the Herd).
Provides a massive 20% damage bonus to your pet, and the movement speed increase isn't too shabby either!
What this talent tree is all about. Lets you tame exotic pets, and provides you with 4 bonus skill points that can go a long way if spent right.
Critical strikes for your hunter mean the increased likelihood of critical strikes for your pet's special attacks, so a 5% crit bonus is as good as it gets for meeting tree requirements.
With decent gear, three points in Careful Aim can add 500+ attack power (a huge bonus for BM hunters).
I'll admit that you could take that point in Invigoration and put it here, and if you only intend to run 25 mans I'd say that might not be a bad idea. But for overall performance, four points should still be more than sufficient.
Thanks to your high attack speed and the fact that this skill counts for all ranged critical hits, this skill provides a massive DPS bonus for your pet.
Popping your Rapid Fire cooldown along with your other skills (Bestial Wrath, AP trinkets, Call of the Wild) provides a massive damage bonus, but without this skill you'll only likely have the chance to use it once per boss fight.
It's something that's not really discussed much or considered by most hunters, but spending your pet talents appropriately will benefit a BM hunter just as much as your hunter talents. Again, you're going to want to focus primarily in boosting pet damage (you won't need to worry about healing or defensive skills).
Without a doubt, ferocity pets are the most beneficial. I'll save discussion of the other pet talent trees for another time, as well as which ferocity pet is best, so for now let's just say that any ferocity pet will suffice!
More hits, less damage per hit. That's okay, because it provides an indirect bonus to the number of critical strikes your pet will be scoring.
Required to move down the tree, and compensates for the fact that you won't want to put anything into Boar's speed.
Keeps your pet alive and eliminates the need to feed your pet the majority of the time. Although two points are extremely beneficial for pet healing, that extra point is better spent maxing out your pet's damage.
Gives a major pet damage increase (9%)!
Newly introduced in 3.3, this skill essentially provides a constant 3% damage increase to both you and your pet with the amount of crits your pet will be scoring.
This cuts down the amount of time spent for your pet to get to the enemy and the point is much better off in Charge than in Boar's speed due to the damage increase. You'll find this skill is especially useful in fights where your pet needs to change targets (Emalon the Storm Watcher) or needs to return to move back to the primary target quickly (Onyxia).
There's that pet crit again. I shouldn't have to tell you how beneficial this is at this point.
This provides a great overall increase for your DPS, but also provides a great bonus at the beginning of boss fights when you'll also likely be popping cooldowns on Bestial Wrath and Call of the Wild.
There's a pretty long cooldown on this skill, but it fulfills the requirements for Wild Hunt and still provides an excellent DPS bonus primarily at the beginning of boss fights when you'll be popping your other cooldowns.
Another great damage bonus for your pet (6%).
Provides an even greater overall damage increase for every point of attack power. The stamina bonus is welcome, but it's all about attack power.
For this build, I'd strongly recommend the following 5 glyphs, with the 6th being a minor glyph of your choosing: Glyph of Kill Shot, Glyph of the Hawk, Glyph of Bestial Wrath, Glyph of Mend Pet, Glyph of Revive Pet.
Unlike the other hunter specs, Attack Power should be your primary statistic. Gemming your gear with Bright Cardinal Rubies will net you higher DPS than agility, as attack power transfer to your pet, but not crit. Critical strike should be your secondary stat, followed by armor penetration due to the large amount of white damage you'll be doing. The benefits of these two stats vary depending on what you're running, of course, as Armor Penetration won't be as useful in heroics as it will in 25 man raids. These stats should come along with most gear and, as such, you shouldn't really worry too much about them as long as you're stacking Attack Power as much as possible.
Of course, reaching 263 hit rating is important, but anything beyond that is a waste (hit cap).
It's going to sound silly, but your rotation will typically just consist of spamming Steady Shot until Arcane Shot is up (or Kill Shot at low enemy HP). Beyond that, you'll be regularly popping your pet skill cooldowns when they're available: Kill Command, Bestial Wrath, Call of the Wild, and Rabid (auto). Incorporating Serpent Sting when you have the 2/5 Windrunner's set bonus is a good idea, but prior to that you'll actually see your DPS drop when using it.
I hope this build proves useful for any hunters out there who like the idea of rolling BM but simply haven't been able to pull adequate DPS to justify it. I'd love to hear any questions or comments you have, so feel free to comment here, send me an email, or even catch me in-game on the Gurubashi server.