Hunter has always been a bit of a mixed bag, especially when players go into the skill blind. OSRS is a game full of dragons, demons, and magic. Why would anyone want to spend time chasing rabbits and catching butterflies?
The early game training methods have poor EXP/hour rates. You'll frequently switch training methods, even if just for an extra 3,000 EXP/hour. Hunter isn't an AFK-friendly skill and requires more attention than other skills while training. It's easy to see how players could get bored with Hunter. But the early game drag shouldn't discourage you from leveling your Hunter skill. Once you reach a respectable Hunter level, the EXP rates are decent, and some endgame training methods are seriously profitable. I can assure you the grind will be worth it. Speaking of the grind, let's delve into what you'll do on your way to level 99 Hunter.
Completion of The Dig Site and Bone Voyage
You'll need to complete The Dig Site quest before you can complete Bone Voyage, and Bone Voyage completion is a requirement for access to Fossil Island. Fossil Island is home to several of the best Hunter training methods, so you need it unlocked.
Completion of Eagles Peak
You need to complete Eagles Peak to set up box traps, and you need box traps to hunt chinchompas.
Digsite pendants are the fastest way to reach Fossil Island, and you'll likely be going there often during your Hunter grind. Stock up on plenty of them.
Unlock Mycelium Transportation System
Scattered across Fossil Island are mushtrees that function as teleports. To gain access to them, you need to visit them first. These are vital to speeding up bird house runs.
Completion of Fairytale I - Growing Pains
If you plan to hunt the Herbiboar, you should get a set of magic secateurs. Obtaining them requires the completion of Fairytale I - Growing Pains.
Weight-Reduction Gear & Stamina/Energy Potions
Hunter is an energy-heavy skill, and you'll spend a lot of time running around. Your EXP rates largely depend on how long you can continuously run.
Recommended Training Methods
Levels 1-9: Natural History Quiz
The Natural History quiz is a miniquest in the basement of Varrock Museum. You must examine 14 creature displays and answer three questions correctly about each. Upon doing so, you will pass the Natural History quiz and earn 1,000 Hunter and Slayer EXP. That will get your Hunter level to 9.
Levels 9-44/60/67/73/80/99: Bird House Runs
Bird house runs refer to training Hunter via bird house trapping. To do so, you will need to make your way to Fossil Island.
There are four locations on Fossil Island where you can set up bird house traps. You'll need logs, a chisel, clockwork, and a hammer. If making the bird houses yourself, you'll need a Crafting level. The lowest tier bird house requires 5 Crafting, the highest 90 Crafting.
If you want to be cost-efficient, stick with maple bird houses once you can set them, as maple logs are very cheap. You will also need a lot of hop seeds, so purchase any of the cheapest ones, like hammerstone or jute.
Once you have everything, go to the four bird house trap locations and set your traps. The most efficient method of doing this is to use a digsite pendant to teleport to the House on the Hill. Next, teleport to Verdant Valley. There are two bird house trap locations. Following that, teleport to Mushroom Meadow and access the trap there. Finally, run south from here to the entrance of Tar Swamp. The final bird house trap location is here.
Fill the bird houses with hop seeds, then come back in 50 minutes. Collect your rewards of bird nests and, most importantly, Hunter EXP. Rinse and repeat.
Bird house running is an excellent passive way of training Hunter. Most of the low-level Hunter training methods could be faster. Many players, myself included, opt to train Hunter exclusively with bird houses until they reach a high enough level to access better training options.
Levels 9-15: Feldip Weasels
If you wish to train Hunter more actively, then from level 9, your best bet is Feldip weasels. Head for the Feldip Hunter area south of Yanille and bring a noose wand. You'll need to catch a few dozen weasels to reach 15 Hunter.
Levels 15-29: Ruby Harvests & Copper Longtails
From levels 15 to 29, you'll be catching ruby harvests and copper longtails. You will need two bird snares, a butterfly net, and some butterfly jars.
Head for the Piscatoris Hunter area and set up your bird snares. While you wait for copper longtails to fall into your traps, catch as many butterflies as possible. Reset your bird snares when needed, and repeat the process.
Levels 29-43: Swamp Lizards
From levels 29 to 43, you'll be hunting swamp lizards. Grab a few small fishing nets and ropes, then head for the Canifis Hunter area southeast of Canifis. Weight-reduction gear works wonders here.
You will need one small fishing net and rope per trap. Until level 40, you can only set two traps. After that, you can set three traps. Before level 40, EXP rates are between 20,000-28,000 per hour, and after level 40, 40,000-45,000.
Levels 43-60 Falconry
You've reached the first decent active Hunter training option. From levels 43 to 60, you'll be using falcons to hunt kebbits.
Bring some coins, then head for the Piscatoris falconry area. Rent a falcon, then send it out to catch kebbits. After it has secured a kill, retrieve it, drop your loot, then repeat the process.
From levels 43-56, you'll hunt spotted kebbits. For levels 56-60, dark kebbits are the way to go. The EXP rates here largely depend on your Agility level, weight-reduction gear, and how many energy/stamina potions you have, as you'll be running around a lot.
Optimally speaking, spotted kebbits offer 60,000-70,000 EXP/hour. Dark kebbits are 75,000-80,000 EXP/hour.
Levels 60-67/73/80: Red Salamanders
After you've reached level 60 Hunter, hunting red salamanders is your best bet.
Catching salamanders requires net traps, so bring five ropes and small fishing nets. When you have items you need, head for the Ourania Cave. The red salamanders are south of the cave's entrance.
Set up your five net traps on the trees in the area and wait for red salamanders to fall into them. Reset your traps, then repeat the process.
EXP rates largely depend on energy management and how efficiently you are picking up/dropping items and resetting your traps. If training optimally, you can expect 80,000-85,000 EXP/hour.
Levels 67-69/73/80: Black Salamanders
After reaching level 67 Hunter, black salamanders are the best active Hunter training option. Head for the Boneyard Hunter area northeast of the Chaos Temple.
Bring five ropes and small fishing nets for your net traps, then get to work. The process is the same as red salamanders, so you should be used to it now.
If training optimally, you can expect EXP rates of 105,000-110,000 EXP/hour. Since this is a Wilderness training location, you may want to avoid bringing a lot of stamina potions in case PKers kill you.
Levels 73-99: Black Chinchompas
The best active Hunter training method in OSRS is the infamous black chinchompas. Get comfortable, as you'll be here until level 99.
Black chinchompas are in levels 32-36 Wilderness, southeast of the Lava Maze. To train her optimally, you will need a bow, arrows, and preferably an alt account. Bring six box traps.
Set your box traps down, then wait for some chinchompas to fall into your traps. Sometimes the chinchompas will wander off far away from your traps. In those situations, your best option is to use your bow to kill them. The newly-spawned chinchompa will be close to your box traps. Using an alt to shoot stray chinchompas is faster than using your main account.
To be as efficient as possible, bring a knife and teak/mahogany log for tick manipulation. You can also employ the trap resetting technique to speed things up.
If everything goes perfectly, optimal EXP rates are 145,000-160,000 EXP/hour at level 73. Those rates jump to 180,000-210,000 at level 80 and 200,000-230,000 at level 90. You must use an alt to get the best EXP rates.
Hunting black chinchompas is very profitable, and from 73 to 99 Hunter, you can expect around 90 million GP profit. Assuming you never get PK'd, that is.
And never getting PK'd isn't likely. Due to bots alone, the black chinchompa hunting area is a PKer hotspot. If PKers keep hassling you, black chinchompas may be more trouble than they're worth.
Luckily, there are some high-level alternatives to black chinchompas.
Alternative Training Methods
Level 44: Drift net fishing
Drift net fishing provides great Hunter EXP and also gives solid Fishing EXP. The problem? It's extremely click-intensive, and optimal training requires a lot of items.
You can drift net fish underwater at Fossil Island. Ideally, you want flippers, a fishbowl helmet and fishing apparatus, and a trident. You need at least 47 Fishing.
Once below, set up your fish nets and get to fishing. You earn EXP by actively chasing fish shoals into your drift nets or by them trapping themselves. You must monitor your drift nets closely, as they catch nothing when they're full. After you harvest a drift net, you'll lose it and need to make another one.
If training optimally, you can expect EXP rates of 81,000 EXP/hour at level 50 and 115,000 EXP/hour after hitting level 70 Hunter.
Levels 69-99: Carnivorous Chinchompas
If black chinchompas are too much trouble, consider their red counterparts: carnivorous chinchompas.
To hunt these creatures, you must complete Song of the Elves for the Gwenith Hunter area or Western Provinces Diary hard tasks for the red chinchompa hunting grounds.
The strategies here are identical to that of black chinchompas. The difference is that neither location is in the Wilderness, so there's no risk of profit loss and slowdown of EXP.
If training optimally, EXP rates start are 90,000-100,000 EXP/hour at level 70 before jumping to 140,000-150,000 at level 80. At level 90, they increase to 160,000-170,000 an hour.
Profit-wise, hunting red chinchompas to level 99 Hunter will give you half as much GP as you would get from black chinchompas: 40-45 million GP.
Levels 80-99: Herbiboar
Most Hunter training options are very click-intensive and require constant attention. The Herbiboar is the best option for those looking to take it easy.
Before hunting the Herbiboar, ensure you have a respectable Herblore level, as that will determine the quality of the Herbiboar's herb drops. Having magic secateurs is ideal as well. Once you're ready, go to Fossil Island. There are five locations around the island where you can begin a Herbiboar hunt. Inspect an area until you find Herbiboar tracks leading to a tunnel. Find the correct tunnel, then harvest the Herbiboar.
Successful hunts grant you Hunter EXP, Herblore EXP, and herbs. After harvesting the Herbiboar, repeat the process. At level 80, efficient Herbiboar hunting can net you 120,000 EXP/hour.
Be the Hunter, Not the Hunted
Hunter is one of those skills that collects dust on many players' total level screens. And understandably so. Even the best training methods aren't the most enjoyable activities in the world, but almost all require your constant attention.
Nevertheless, it's not a skill you should ignore. Yeah, it can be a bit painful to train (Unless you bird house your way to 99), but it pays off. Speaking from personal experience, catching your first dragon impling in the wild is a wonderful feeling. So get to hunting, ladies, and gents.