I've owned just about every scope a fella can purchase. I now only have Leupold's. They can be a bit pricey, but I suggest you buy as much scope as you can afford. They are a lot more important than one might think.
I like the Leupold Vari-X III. You can get the bigger objective (50 mm,) but you lose a bit in sighting. Although, I've never had a problem with mine. I love it and I have it on my .300 magnum. My .270 and my wife's .243 both have a 40 mm objective as well. With that being said, you can really tell the difference between them in low light conditions. That 50 mm objective really draws a lot of light.
I just don't think the slight advantage that the European scopes have is worth the extra money. Admittedly, they are better, but not enough to warrant several hundred dollars more. However, if I was independently wealthy, I'd probably have top of the line European scopes on my rifles.
Lastly, I would suggest that you go to one of the larger places that sell scopes and look through several and compare prices and clarity. That way you'll get the best comparison.
I'm with Wheland on this one--I own about 9 Leupold's and am buying 2 more tomorrow--They are a bit more than some but are made in USA and they answer their phone in English( no push one for Eng.) and their technical folks can answer most any question in a manner iIcan understand- they also stand behind their products and will repalce any that go south for any reason- I like the variX 111 but have a couple of VariX 11 also- I also have two pairs of their binocs--
A perk of majoring in wildlife biology in college is the plethora of hunting knowledge that you collect throughout your course load. One of the most important factors in whether an area can hold large quantities of animals or produce large antlers is forage.
Most universities, state schools and even community colleges offer basic botany courses and plant ID courses. Although it might not be feasable for the average middle age hunter to pay tuition and go back to college to learn hunting...