I like the VX-II. It's a very nice scope, but not near as hard on the wallet as the VX-III. I don't know about the Rifleman. Up here in Alaska you buy the best scope you can possibly afford, and make sacrifices to get it. I looked at it like insurance. Access is tough up here, and by the time I put the time and expense into getting in position for a shot, I don't want to take the chance of a fogged or bumped scope. The expense associated with trying again can easily exceed the price of the scope upgrade.
Try a alternative to Leupold, you may be surprised
Dek, I would suggest a good look at Burris scopes. They have a lifetime warrenty and from my recent experience with them, they have great optics. I now use a Pentax (Burris) Lightseeker on my long range rifle, .264 Win Mag. and find it to be better optics than my vari-x III 6.5 x 20 target.
I've heard a lot of folks (not on this forum) who blast the Leuplold Rifleman. The fact is that the Rifleman is actually the original Vari-X II just renamed, in matte finish with wide duplex reticle. Same specs, coating, MOA adjust, tube, etc. I've always had great luck with my older Vari-X II's, Vari-X III's, and my newer Rifleman scope. According to Leuplod, all their scopes are built to the exact same repeatable accuracy, duability, and quality standards. The difference between the models is the lens coating, MOA increments, parrellax adjust. This is according to Leupold.
Just get the VX-III and be done with it. Like the other Alaskan poster mentioned it's not worth taking all that time and money and effort on a hunt only to go to take the shot and the scope is less than stellar to see through.
I have VX-III's on all of my rifles (even my 22)
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...