hey man, Im kinda in the same place as you minus the boss paying for my rifle.
I've done a bunch of looking and this is my plan for my first long / intermeiate range rifle
Rem Senduro .300 Ultra mag
leupold 4.5x14 VXIII Long range
leupold rings+bases (stainless)
Defensive Edge brake
Defensive edge cheek piece
glass bed (at home kit)
Turn the .300 into a .338 edge
the great thing about this package is that with the first three on the list your in your pice range, and the rest can come later for not alot of $$$.
Its prety hard to beat the Senduro package. The other thing I would recommend highly is Shawn Carlocks video on long range hunting (..:efensive Edge - Custom Gunsmithing::..
). It helped me geet a grasp on LR shooting.
where are you in the interior? maybe we can go shoot ( Im newer to the long distance thing too)