Jack, this is just one more opinion and I think you are on the right track by purchasing quality gear right out of the gate - buy junk and you'll regret it. Browning generally makes excellent products and I think you'll like that rifle. As for the scope get a good brand name but do not mistake fancy for better. I'd listen to what Don has to say. Too much scope is a bulky hassle especially in the woods and you'll spend money for nothing. A variable power scope is not a neccessity, especially a high power one.
.30-06, .270. 300 Win Mag, 300 Rem Ultra Mag, 7mm-08, 7mm Mag, .308, and others will all do very well at killing deer and elk. I believe it all comes down to preference, not performance. I like .30-06. My dad always used one. I just like it. My father-in-law likes the .270 for the same reason. Others have an attachment to the .308. Others love the ballistics of the 7mm Mag. My buddy custom chambered his Browning into a 300 RUM. And so on. I don't think you'll ever be in a position with deer/elk where you'll miss an animal and come to a rational conclusion that "if I was shooting Caliber X instead of Caliber Y, I would have killed that animal."
I'm quite certain that any of those calibers will do just as well at taking these animals in the ranges that most people shoot. Pick the one that you prefer.
I have a Browning A-Bolt and love it. Don't know much about the X-Bolt or how it differs from the A.
I'm a fan of Leupold scopes and sport a Vari-X III -- works great in low-light conditions. Swarovski obviously makes nice optics, so it will be nice. Probably better values out there, but you should end up with a nice scope. I went with the 3-10x. 2-7x is fine, too. You'll spend most time in the 4 - 7x range. My brother has a nice Nikon Monarch scope that looks really nice -- seems as clear as my Leupold.
My 4.5X14 is my favorite hunting scope. The difference in size between my 3X9 is not noticable.
I looked at weights on the Cabela's site and my Leupold VX III 14 is only 2 oz heavier than the Nikon Bushmaster 3 X 9 and actually lighter than some of the other lower power Nikon scopes so i don't think size is really an issue for hunting.
My earlier advice to go and look at scopes and compare them side by side is still my best advice.
But for those that say that the 14 power is too much maginifcation, I'd counter that there really isn't much difference between 3 power and 4.5 power. So, with the 3 X 9 you can go down to 3 power, but with the 4.5 X 14 I can go to 10 - 14 and the 9 power can't.
I prefer the extra magnification, especially hunting out west so it isn't really a question of which scope is the "right" scope, but which scope do you prefer and which one suits your hunting needs best.
The only right answer, in my opinion is buy a quality scope and buy the one you prefer.
Hi and welcome Johnny Danger.
Every rifle is different, but if you're trying factory loads, then I'd suggest you start experimenting with different weights of "cheap" loads. Power Points, Corelokts and Power Shoks all tend to shoot well in a variety of rifles. Try to narrow down a bullet weight that your gun seems to prefer before spending the money on premium loads.
If you meant handloads, I'm sure someone else here can help with that, as I've never owned a .30-06.
Elk have been killed close to roads where they could be loaded whole into the bed of a pickup. But it doesn't happen often and I'm not sure that is the experience that I long for. The type of elk hunting that I prefer requires rigorous physical exertion that can cripple someone who is not in shape. Being a college hockey player I have to be in at least fair physical condition most of the year but when one of my buddies got back from the Navy Seals he changed the way I think about physical...