Monsters in level 40 play are rarely losing significant health at Stage 1 unless they commit to a fight.
Committing to a fight in this context means more than simply getting Domed - it means eschewing evasive maneuvers in favor of fighting the Hunters.
Most areas, and thus most Domes have some form of cover the Monster can use to evade damage rather than fighting; and Trappers cannot afford to be picky with Dome placement against a good Monster.
As a general rule Hunters have an advantage at Stage 1, they are theoretically equal at Stage 2, and the Monster has a heavy advantage at Stage 3.
Personally I view Stage 2 as in the Hunter’s favor with no armor Stage 2 fight and in the Monster’s favor with full armor; and more often than not Stage 2 fights are full armor.
With this as a premise, good Monsters can generally choose to fight when they are equal or stronger than the Hunters.
Early tracking leads are made largely irrelevant by the slightest terrain to dodge behind in a Dome, and the ability to smell Hunters prevents good Monsters from being caught evolving to Stage 2.
At Stage 2 Monster can typically gain full armor almost immediately if the Hunters were not nearby and closing in while they Evolved putting even most Stage 2 fights in the Monster’s advantage in my opinion…
Building strikes takes less time and has more impact on the game than inflicting heavy Health damage: since the Monster does not lose combat effectiveness from damage until they die.
Typically when a Monster loses, it is because they chose to commit to a bad fight and/or stayed in committed too long while fighting poorly.
While I view this as a balance issue, I admit that it isn’t a very straightforward one to solve: I’m not sure that pure buffs and nerfs would address it well.
These are rough ideas I have to address it.
An overhaul to the Wildlife system to rework Carrion Birds, weaken the highly evasive eat on the run strategy, give more of a reason to hunt big game, and allow a more functional meat denial strategy to aid hopelessly lost Hunters. Centrally geared towards giving Hunters more of a chance to catch up with a feeding Monster.
Give the Hunters some measure of combat jetpack recharge bonus, mirroring the Monster’s stamina increase and helping them stay on its tail.
Making Trapper CC less frequent, but more powerful to make them more effective at pinning an evasive Monster and provide a more reliable line of defense aside the team’s Medic. Hopefully Hank would be less essential.
Make Monster armor levels scale with Stage to allow Hunters a reasonable chance of inflicting significant health damage in early domes and better balance the risk/reward of Stage 2 health damage vs strikes.
Hopefully these changes would make the Hunters more able to pick and kill in fights while making them less reliant on the Monster committing to a bad fight.