A properly played melee specialized hunter can be an excellent off-tank that still retains DPS and CC capabilities.
Alright, I now have a thesis to base my work on, time to do some research.
Where to start? Why, guildmates of course! One of the reasons that i love my guild can be shown here. When I announced my intention to make a pure melee hunter, there was no "L2P", or "Noob", or even "Yer off the Team!" Nope, The worst I got was from the GM, "Are you gonna use that in this week's raid?"
After I told Him that I didn't plan on doing that with my main, he was all for it. I did get a lot of help in deciding whether to try and how.
First things first, I'm not making my Marks specced main into something she's not. So that means a new toon. Ok. What race?
Considering that only three races can't be Hunters, there seemed to be a lot to look through. Though if Humans could be Hunters that woulda cinched it for me... Some day maybe.
I'll break it down by side, Alliance first. Oh and i'm leaving off the resistances as honestly, I really don't care about them at this point.
Night elves get a 1% bonus to dodge, and shadowmeld...and improved death!
Dwarves get a +5 bonus to guns, treasure finding, and stoneform.
Dreanai get bonus to jewelcrafting, and a heal.
Orcs get a 5% bonus to pet damage, 15% bonus to avaoiding stuns and the like, +5 to axes, and enrage ability.
Trolls get a +5 bonus to bows and thrown weapons, 5% bonus damage to beasts, regeneration, and berzerk ability.
Tauren get a bonus to herbalism, 5% bonus in HP, and Thunderstomp.
Blood Elves get a bonus to enchanting, and the mana tap-silence combo.
... Ok from here it looks like I shoulda been playing Horde a LONG time ago.. Oh well. So many good things to choose from. Well since I can't play em all (at this point), I'll have to get ta prunin'. What finally decided it for me was two things. Character concept (I do play on an RP server) and bloody healers in PVE and PVP. The concept I had goes back to the D&D ranger. Rather than taking all the bow feats, I want the dual wield ones. (and yep i'm speaking 3.5 for some old diehards) Drizzt... fast, lithe, wields two fast weapons of doom, and has an angry cat. Still that coulda been a Night Elf or even a troll, but the Silence effect made the Blood Elf the choice for me.
The second thing was to decide what restrictions to place on myself... and to fit them into some sorta RP sense.
I want to Dual Wield, So that means for the time being I won't bother with any two hander skills. Also no Bow, gun,, or crossbow skill either. Full melee. I did, however, decide to let her use thrown weapons. They don't unlock any of the Hunter ranged abilities, and I really wanted something to go in that ranged slot. And also it saves on needing Dash/Dive/Charge to get the mob to me if need be.
Hunters have the biggest choice of weaponry besides Warriors. I however cut my choices to three weapons, Daggers, Axes, and Swords, and all had to be 1.60 or less on speed. (Though I did later decide to up that to 1.80) Currently, as it stands, I have yet to find an axe that I like that isn't Main Hand only. Makes me glad I didn't choose orc.