All good ideas on the chamberings. Brakes are good too, and I have one, but if loud concussive noises is an issue - remember you will need a plan to avoid that in the woods. I don't think it's often realistic to put on ear protection when something pops up short-range. That means you'd need to be wearing some electronic ear protection
. Ask others here who have hunted with it - I haven't. Some I've heard say they don't like it, because of how it magnifies everything (but that is one brand/type). I use a muzzle brake
for practicing then remove it for hunting, after adjusting for any POI change.
A light-weight gun is great. A magnum is great, and with a brake, even light-weight ones can have manageable recoil. I'd rather deal with the extra punch in the shoulder vs. the muzzle break noise when hunting since it shouldn't be many rounds and with the adrenaline you'll likely not feel it much. I guess it depends if you want a one-gun hunting battery primarily for now. If so, a light-weight magnum with a removeable brake is probably good. If you can ever envision having two rifles, you may get a light-weight non-magnum for everything 400 yds and less (which covers a LOT of hunting situations, even out West). Then, you could get a heavier 10-12# magnum chambered and twisted for stuff out to 1000. However, you can try to cover all bases with one gun - it's all a bit of a compromise and personal preference.
As to hunting/scouting etc. there are quite a few decent books on Western Big Game hunting, you can also catch some decent shows on the outdoor channel with western hunting (not all are that useful or educational, but some give you some idea of what to do and expect, especially if it's all new to you).