Choosing the proper deer hunting rifle is one of the most important tasks of the beginning deer hunter. Too often beginners end up in the woods with a rifle that is more of a burden to successful hunting that it is a help. While hunting magazines and rifle manufacturers push the latest thing this does not mean that the beginning hunter (or any other hunter) needs to actually own one.
Before I get started let me state that I have been hunting deer for about 25 years. I have killed deer with the following: bolt action rifle, lever action rifle, semi-automatic rifle, flintlock muzzleloader, compound bow, recurve bow, and an Oldsmobile. And all of them worked perfectly well, though the Oldsmobile needed some repairs. While there are many people with more experience and knowledge than me, I believe I have enough experience to assist with buying a first gun for deer hunting.
The most important part of buying a beginner rifle for deer hunting is to buy something chambered for a cartridge that you can handle. If you are an inexperienced shooter find someone who will let you shoot their guns or find a range / gun shop that will allow you to test fire guns. Any cartridge that ends in “Magnum” should be passed by as they are wholly unneeded. Personally I would recommend specifically the following calibers: .243 Winchester, .25-06, 7mm-08, or 30-30 Winchester, with the .243 and 30-30 being the top two. The reason that I would recommend these is that they are easy on the shoulder and ammunition is common. There are scores of perfectly useable deer hunting cartridges, but I would suggest sticking to these common loadings. (I must say that it breaks my heart to not list my beloved .270 Winchester)
As far as what type of rifle to use this is a matter or personal preference. Every gun sold for hunting will work just fine. Economical bolt action rifles are made by Stevens, Mossberg, and others and should provide many years of service. Another gun to take a look at is the H&R Handi-Rifle. The Handi-Rifle is a singleshot rifle that will get the job done for a very low cost. Don’t overlook used rifles. A rifle that has been taken care of will perform well for decades. Have an experienced friend help you shop for a used gun.
Choosing a hunting scope is similar to choosing a caliber, bigger is not better. The standard economy priced 4X or 3-9X is all that you will need. Choose a scope from a well known maker (Tasco, Bushnell, Simmons, etc.)
Get a gun that you can shoot comfortably, get practiced shooting, and get in the woods.