I have hunted for over 35 years and at one point back in my younger years I always thought bigger was better, using the magnum calibers, but now I too use a 308. It does all you need it to and the recoil is far more manageable witch means a far more accurate and humane shots. The 30:06 and 270 will also do the job nicely. I do like the 30 caliber cartridges better because there are a lot more bullet weights you can get into depending on what you are hunting. Bolt action is a very safe rifle and very accurate as well.I love my 12ga. 870, but it certainly limits my range when deer hunting. Most deer I see where I hunt are within range but my gun limits where I can go. There is plenty of other land I can hunt around me including powerlines but I need a rifle for that. I would like a gun with a scope with the sight under so I can use the sights for close range. I am also looking at .308 but any suggestions on calibers would be great as I do not have too much knowledge as far as guns go.
I fell in love with my 25-06 ( .2500/3000 refined cousin) and my wife is very successful with her .223. We both shoot savage bolt actions and have never chased a deer more than one shot and 50 yards with either. The key to being a successful hunter is being a confident shooter and a caliber that’s easy to shoot on the shoulder and wallet are key to developing the proper techniques and habits to be a good shot. There are better options for deer or an all purpose rifle, but if you can only have one rifle and want to have a gun that you can use on anything that walks in the woods in Maine...I think the .308 may be the best choice for a beginner or less experienced shooter than the venerable 30.06.An old thread but a good one. I like the .308 and .30/06 and have owned and taken deer with both; the .308 being a Savage M99. However, I've tended to favor the .25s and have owned .250/3000, .257 Roberts and a couple of .25/06 rifles. And while I've killed deer with everything from my .22Hornet to the .338 mag, .350 R and .45/70, I've killed more deer with my two .250/3000 rifles (a Sav M99 & a Ruger M77) than with all others combined. Yep, the little .250 Sav is my perennial favorite. I guess I should add that it's been many years since I've hunted with modern rifles. I have been using black powder flintlocks exclusively for a good long while. But still, the .308 will do for everything.
If you like your 870, why not go with a Remington 7600? You'd be familiar with the safety and feel. You can get it in .308 and you could find a used one in the short barreled .308. You could get a new one in 30-06 with the short barrel. The 18.5" (short) barrel makes a huge difference carrying it. Way better IMO and I have both. My main deer gun is the 7600 30-06 carbine (18.5") with a Leupold VXIII 1.5x5 with low rings and I take the open sights off and plug the holes. This setup weighs about 7lbs and is a sweet setup to carry. I use the flip open caps on the scope on bad weather days and have never thought I needed the open sights. I take the whole month off to hunt and this gun has a lot of carry time on it, no better deer gun for Maine IMHO.I love my 12ga. 870, but it certainly limits my range when deer hunting. Most deer I see where I hunt are within range but my gun limits where I can go. There is plenty of other land I can hunt around me including powerlines but I need a rifle for that. I would like a gun with a scope with the sight under so I can use the sights for close range. I am also looking at .308 but any suggestions on calibers would be great as I do not have too much knowledge as far as guns go.