One of the more rare questions that's come up on the Hunter forum (but which has still been asked occasionally) is, "So how do I start a Survival Hunter?"
The short answer is, you don't.
Shocked? Read on.
What I mean by that is that using Survival straight from level 10 is highly inadvisable, if making things easier for yourself while you get used to being a Hunter in general is what you want. To a degree, (with some other stuff from the BM tree) I myself did it, and my experiences while doing that are a very large part of the reason why I'm saying that you shouldn't, because in the early game it will make your life a lot more difficult. (Not to mention expensive, since you will have to shell out large amounts of money on items to try and match the degree of damage output that people of other specs are getting straight out of their trees, earlier on)
Initially when you read this, you're probably going to be wondering if this means that I'm telling you that you shouldn't be Survival at all. Quite the contrary; I fully believe in the truth of the quote of Trissan which I have on the front page, and intend to advocate Survival as a spec to anyone who is willing to take it. Part of the whole point with Survival is that a prerequisite is thinking out of the box, and unfortunately people seem to think that that only applies to going the misbegotten "melee hunter" route. The truth is, that this is an unorthodox spec, and that even while being fully ranged, in order to get good results you'll still have to do things which will at times have your peers looking at you a little strangely. We've always been the black sheep of the Hunter family, and while patch 2.1 made us somewhat more mainstream, it didn't remove the Uncle Fester element entirely. If it had, I probably wouldn't want to still be Surv myself. (*crazed cackle*)
However, (and this is a BIG however) in order to do genuinely respectable damage with Survival, you need two very important things, one of which you're not going to be able to get until level 29 at the earliest. This first element is 20 talent points spent in the Marksmanship tree, down to Mortal Shots.
While BRK writes that he has never seen any reason not to take it for his own Beast Mastery build as it is as wonderful as it is for damage enhancement, I'm going to go further and say that in my own opinion anyway, 20 point Marks goes beyond being wonderful to being absolutely critical for Survival, as it is essentially the backbone of the ranged damage we do.
That is not to say that Survival itself doesn't enhance ranged damage, but that is the key word here, people; enhance. A couple of people on the Hunter forum have occasionally drawn an analogy between Survival and the Shaman's Enhancement tree, and they're correct in that like that tree, Survival enhances the damage that you're able to bring to the table from other sources, (such as your gear and points spent in the other two trees) but it doesn't so much directly provide damage straight off. (as in the case of BM, and to a lesser extent Marks) If you're willing to hone your edge as a Hunter to a fine point on your own, Survival will make it razor.
Following on from that, then, the other essential thing that I feel you'll need, for a good amount of damage with Survival, is a minimum of probably 400 points of Agility, which you're most likely not going to be able to get until around level 60. People on the Hunter forum will tell you that you actually need 600+; I disagree with that, but you will probably want at least 400 in order for Expose Weakness to generate 100 points of attack power for you and the rest of the people you're in a group with. 500 is better, since with that EW will generate 125 AP, which is the equivalent of the Mark's tree's Trueshot Aura, but 400 will give you a bit more than the same boost you get from Hunter's Mark, so it's ok to start with.
Hence the two reasons why Survival can't really be taken straight from level 10. (Well, it can, but like I said you probably just won't enjoy it much)
Now that I've talked about (to a degree anywayz) what perhaps shouldn't be done when starting out as Survival, I'll go into talking about what I feel perhaps should in part 2.