Choosing the Right Hunting Rifle
The .22 is the obvious front runner in this category. Ammunition is cheap and the rifle options for it are almost limitless. Many a new hunter has cut his or her teeth hunting squirrels and rabbits with the .22. Ammunition is relatively cheap and there is not recoil, allowing a new shooter to learn proper technique without flinching.
Perhaps the most popular of these rifles is the Ruger 10/22. The cost is quite reasonable, depending on where it is purchased and what it is equipped with. Due to its popularity there is an immense amount of accessories available for this gun. It is a semi-automatic action.
If you prefer a bolt action model, it is hard to beat the Savage Mark II FS. This rifle can be had in the same general price range as the Ruger 10/22.
Finally, I cannot fail to mention in the lever action category, the Henry. This rifle is one of the lever actions with a receiver set up well for taking a scope. It is a beautiful American made firearm.
I have not discussed the .17 caliber option. It is a fine option with many of the same available rifle models coming in its caliber. The ammunition is more expensive, and you cannot do much more with it than a .22.
There are a variety of calibers suitable for deer hunting. They range from at the very low end the .223 all the way up to cartridges that could be used to drop an elephant or Alaska Brown Bear. It seems the two most popular, traditionally, have been the 30-06 and 30-30 with the .270 being close behind. Perhaps the most versatile of these is the 30-06, suitable for any North American big game animal.
Let me mention first, the bolt action Remington Model 700. It is a great rifle and is available in most of the suitable deer calibers. It is also blessed with a wide range of available accessories. It can be had at a budget price.
The Model 336 from Marlin is available as a 30-30 and is a great lever action rifle at a great price. It runs $500-$700 depending on what options you put on it. The 30-30 is a fine cartridge for short to medium range deer hunting.