Jalif talks about hunting and being hunted over on his post, Hunted. It made me think about how I hunt, and am hunted in return. This post is for the solo hunter.
Things are pretty slow in Molden Heath at the moment, with so many pilots staying out of lowsec. Those that are in lowsec are usually on missions. To find them, use a scan probing ship to find out where they are, and then you can gatecrash them if you think you can handle them.
Scanning them down
A good way of doing this is to scan them down, then enter their mission location while cloaked so that you can check out which ships they're using, and then bookmark the location for you to come back to. (Click on People & Places, click on the Places tab, then click on Add Bookmark.)
If they're using ships bigger than you can handle, you might at least be able to come back when they've left, and scour through the wreckage they leave behind, as they don't always clean up after themselves.
If you can't use scan probes, then mission runners are out of bounds to you. The next best thing is to check out the asteroid belts and planets in a system for those pilots ratting or, occasionally, even mining.
When you enter a system, check the scanner, to see if there's anything showing up. It will be within 14 AU of you. If something does show up, move to a safe spot or a nearby planet if you don't have a safe spot - you don't want to be stuck on the gate.
As you go to the nearby planet, quickly drop a bookmark and then come back to it. (Name it after the gate it's nearby, eg. 'Heild gate safe', so that you can identify bookmark locations.) Now you have a temporary safe spot, making you harder to find while you're about do what comes next.
Important note: no safe spot is safe. It's a temporary illusion of safety, as anyone with scan probes can scan you down. But at least it provides you with a bit extra safety than sitting on the gate. However, if there are 3 other people in system, and you are scanning 3 ships and not one of them is a covert ops or recon ship, then you can sit there a bit longer, because at least you know they are unlikely to pinpoint your location.
From this location, assuming the ships are still on your 360 degree scanner, move the scanner angle down to about 30 degrees, and then circle your view around your ship, positioning your ship over distant objects. Click on scan when you are over each group of objects (like belts and planets).
The reason it's only 30 degrees at this point is because you don't need to worry about further refining it until you get close to your target.
Assuming you've found a ship showing up in your 30 degree scan, check out that distant group of objects. It will likely consist of a planet and a bunch of asteroid belts, maybe even a station or stargate. Select the planet in that group, and warp to it at 100km. (You don't want to warp in at 0km, because your target might be at that point. You don't want to be surprised and have to defend yourself, you want to be the hunter who chooses his battles.)
Now that you've arrived at the planet, clicking on that scan button during travel to make sure they're still there (and to see if any other ships come within scan range), you can bring the scan angle down to 5 degrees (assuming there's no one else right there, of course. If there is, you might want to warp out and then come back at 0km if you can defeat them, or run and hide if you can't.
Click on your ship so that a square appears. This is your 5 degree angle. Now circle your view and position that square on the belts that are around that planet.
When you find your target at a belt and believe that you can take them, warp in at 30km. Most ratters will warp into a belt at a distance, and then close the gap between them and the rats. You want to be far enough away that you can allow yourself time to get the hell out of there if their friends arrive while you were in mid warp, but close enough that you can scramble their attempts to warp out, and then close the gap yourself so you can engage them. 30 km is a good point to give yourself breathing room. Make sure you use a Warp Disruptor II for up to 24km of disruptive goodness. Preventing them from warping out while you approach is your first objective. Close the distance, activate your webifier to slow them down, then engage and destroy them as you see fit.
Congratulations, you've just hunted down your prey! All of this, from entering the system and setting up a safe spot, to arriving at the planet and scanning them down at a belt, should take no longer than 2 - 3 minutes. It's very fast when you know what you're doing.
Back to the combat... If they're faster than you and are keeping their distance from your webifier, then check what object is behind them, and take note of what their approximate distance from centre of the belt is. Eg. if you came in at 30km, and they're 30km out from you, then they're about 60km from centre of belt.
Warp out towards the object behind them (at 100km), and then come back to the belt at 60km. By going to the planet behind them, you are modifying your angle of approach so that it will be on the same plane as them and the centre of the belt, and if they're still there (hey, it's possible!), then you should be almost right on top of them and can engage the warp disruptor and webifier. Destroy them!
If they've gone, of course, then return to the planet and see if you can scan them down again. They might have moved on to another belt. Follow the same process.
If they've moved on to another system, or you have a bunch of potential hostiles enter system (eg. more people enter the system and warships start showing up on your 360 degree scanner), then you might want to consider docking or moving on as well.
Remember: if you have attacked a target that is NOT flashy red to you, then you will be flashy red to everyone else for the next 15 minutes. This also means that if you approach stations or gates in lowsec, the sentry guns WILL fire upon you. (If you're flashy red all the time because of your negative sec status, then you're going to be used to this!) Do not attempt to enter highsec when you have a red aggression countdown timer, or CONCORD will be introducing you to the emptiness of space.
Lying in wait
The next part of this 'being the hunter' section involves waiting for your prey to show up when a known ratting system is empty.
Most ratters will start at the first belt in the list when they enter the system, and move on from there. So find the planet that the first belt orbits, and warp to it at 100km (always avoid the standard 0km, so that if someone is there when you arrive, or arrives after you get there, you have time to engage or warp away if you want to). Search around you for the belt that you're focusing on at this stage.
Once you've found it, click on it so that it's selected in your overview. Click on Align To at the top of your overview. You will now start moving to that belt at your maximum normal speed.
This serves two advantages. 1) It moves you away from the warp-in point at the planet, so that even if someone warps in at 100km, you won't be there. 2) You're aligned for the belt so that when a target arrives you can click on 'warp to' at the top of the overview and arrive there in just a couple seconds.
Click on your ship to create that 5 degree square, and position it over the belt. Change your scanning angle down to 5 degrees and repeatedly scan when someone enters the system. As soon as they arrive at the belt, they'll show up on your scan.
Always keep an eye on your overview to see if they arrive at your planet (see The hunted below). You're now monitoring both the belt and your planet this way, allowing you to see either a target or someone arriving at the planet to potentially hunt you.
Don't forget to change the scanner angle from 5 degrees to 360 degrees and back to 5 again. Every time you change the angle, it'll automatically perform another scan, allowing you to keep an eye on both the area around you, and the belt you're monitoring.
When a potential target arrives at the belt, they will need about 30 seconds to get agro from the rats. Keep monitoring them during this time. If they're still there after 30 seconds, warp! (You don't want to warp in too soon and get the agro from the rats onto you!)
Remember to note your angle of approach, and note that you will be coming in at 0km. Take note of their location and any objects behind them, and warp out and come back as necessary (as already explained above).
Good luck with your hunting!
If someone turns up at your planet while you're lying in wait and you don't want to engage them, luckily you're already aligned to the belt you're monitoring and can warp to the belt immediately. They won't be aligned, and will take a few seconds to follow you. While you're en route to the belt select an object in your overview, like a stargate. As soon as you hit the belt, immediately click on Warp To, and you'll immediately re-align and take off to the stargate. You'll be warping out of the belt as your hunter arrives, waving them goodbye and laughing as you escaped another hunter doing the same thing you were.
It's always important to expect that you will be hunted by others, just as much as you are hunting others. It's absolutely necessary to always be preparing yourself for running away. Always have an object selected in your overview, and where possible, always be aligned to it and traveling to it at your maximum speed - even at safe spots.
This guarantees that if you are surprised by someone, that you can immediately warp away and avoid them, thus ensuring your continued survival.
When being hunted, do not sit in one place for longer than 30 seconds unless it's a safe spot and those hunting you are not in covert orps or recon ships. (Covert ops ships will be trying to scan you down for their friends to come in and warp to you, or to bookmark your location, dock, and then come back and kill you in their battleship...)
When more people in local start arriving, and they're of the same corp as your hunter or the same alliance, you might want to leave the system or dock. It's safer to dock, because their friends might be waiting for you on the other side of the gate.
Never leave your keyboard when out in space. Always dock first. Let me tell you a story of what happened to me this morning, and let this be a lesson to you to never leave your keyboard.
I was out hunting with a bluemate (you don't ALWAYS have to be solo, as it can work very well in pairs too), and he pinpointed a Hoarder at a station. Arriving at the station, he found that they were about 100km away from the station and slowly moving away from it - the pilot must have gone AFK when he undocked.
My bluemate advised of the target's angle in relation to a nearby object, and distance from station (about 100km). I warped to the object, and then warped back to the station at 100km, only to find the Hoarder was in a different location and about 90km away.
Beyond him was another planet. I advised my bluemate of the planet and the distance the Hoarder was from me. He warped to the planet, and I alerted him the distance had changed because I was moving to him (it was now about 70km). My bluemate warped to me at 70km, and came out right on top of him.
Bang! One destroyed Hoarder, and my bluemate podkilled the pilot as well. He wasn't carrying anything and only dropped a cargo expander, but so be it. You can just imagine the reaction when the pilot comes back to his computer, seeing himself back in his station.
Never think you're safe when AFK, and always keep in mind angles of approach and use your environment to help you and hinder the hunters.
Stay safe, and good luck.