I think to much is made about brands of rifle's. Some are known to be more accurate out of the box, Savage, and some easier to accurize, Remington 700.
I think that all are well made but appeal, cosmetically, to different tastes.
I've had some problems with one major brand recently but many more people haven't with the same brand. Savage has a reputation for outstanding out of the box accuracy but many people call them ugly. Many people are singing the praises of the new Mossberg's at Wal Mart, say they really shoot great. I think they are ugly.
I think what you really need to do is find a rifle you like to look at and that feel's good when you hold it. If you don't like looking at it or holding it, you probally won't want to shoot it much either. Then it's a good bet you won't shoot it as well as you should!
As for the cartridge, there are so many that serve multiple purpose it's ridiculess. The 30-06 is a fine cartridge that'll do probally all you ask it to do IF you do your part. That is learn to shoot, feed it well (choose proper loads), and very important, learn where to shoot at an animal. ie: it's lungs ain't in it's butt!
I agree with Don. The Savage can't be beat for the price. I'm not as much into the looks of a rifle I plan to use. I have nice looking rifles I use only at the range and I have dead ugly rifles I love in the woods. The animals are not going to care if you kill them without a custom rifle.
Bring them in on a string. I love this term, if you want to be successful on calling in Elk, try not to just sound like the other caller. We all laugh at each other when we are practicing Elk calling at home or while camping. When I first started calling in Elk, I had no idea what i was doing and it's funny how many I could call in. The biggest Bull that I have called in to date was actually my first. I was making cow calls and screwing it up big time. But it's obvious I didn't screw up...