As guess we all dream about the perfect rifle at onbe time or another.I know over the years,I wasted alot of money and spent a bunch of time coming up with the perfect gun.In the end,I realized that there isn't much difference between any modern cartridge.A shot to the vitals should result in a dead animal every time.Even more important than that is finding a rifle that you have confidence in and can shoot the best.For the type of hunting I do,A lightweight bolt action suits me the best.Other guys may like a pump.I can honestly say,I can't think of one time over the past 30 years that a different rifle would have made a difference in the outcome of a hunt.With that said,nothin at all wrong with having as many as you can afford.
The pumps, especially thr 760 BDL's, are like a 3rd arm for me. They point and aim flawlessly. I, like you, have never found myself needing what the pump action offers. Sure, I get looks from people when they see me carrying my pumps in hunting season, and I could only imagine they are thinking I am a lead slinger. But to date, the only time I fired a second shot at a game animal with one of those 760's was this past hunting season, when my bear dropped, and tried getting back up.
As for the cartridges, I tend to agree. Proper placed shots are always key. My 760 BDL .270 Winchester took that PA black bear down in his tracks with a "dinky" 130 grain pill...
With the shot I placed on that bear, A 223 with a 60 grain partition would have done the job.
Bullet choice and shot placement. That is the name of the game.
Then there comes a time when one must decide what is best for his current hunting situation.
I hunt out of a tree stand for deer. I can haul me up a cannon and hunt with it all day. Any rifle, any weight, any size. It doesn't matter. I am sitting in a tree stand, and that rifle is not causing me any fatigue.
Then there is the 4 day bear season. I am on my feet moving, climbing hills, crawling through briars, grapevines and rhodedendron over your head, and doing it at a fast rate. A heavy gun would slow me down. I do now want a long barrel, I do not want weight. I do not want big scopes. I want maneuverability. For some that rifle is a 22" bolt action model 700. For others it is a 22" barreled Tikka or Savage. For me it was always the 760 BDL in .30-06. It carried well, it pointed well. However, this past season it had a little too much weight by Day 3 and 4. That is why I decided to try a carbine for the 2012 bear season.
I already have a 7600 35 Whelen in a 22" barrel. If I wanted to use the Whelen because I didn't believe in my .30-06, it would happened long ago. Like I said, I wouldn't hesitate to shoot any bear we have in Pa with my .270. I have confidence in my load, my ability, my bullet selection. Confidence in your setup, as you point out, is a big factor in the big scheme of things.
But it just so happens, since I decided to go with a carbine, that the 7600 Whelen carbine popped up.
When I had first decided to go with a carbine (and as you know, I am a 760 BDL nut), I planned to either roll with a .30-06 or .308 carbine, and throw a BDL stock on it as it would essentially be just a chopped version of what I was currently using. My big issue over the years was my 22" barrel, being that I am a fairly larger fella, would get me in tight spots. Several times I noticed a carbine would have been ideal. Mostly when I was crawling through the thick stuff. One learns how to carry their rig over time, as did I, but there is no question a shorter barrel would be easier.
But any gun nut like me likes originality too.
For some, like you said, it doesn't matter. They carry what they have. We have a guy carrying a 26" barreled Mossberg with a slug barrel. God bless that fella.
We also have guys using user friendly, low recoiling rounds like the 7mm-08. Once again, confidence and shot placement, and knowing your rig.
I figure I'll try the carbine out... see how it goes. I could be wasting my time, as you said, with trying to find the perfect rig. But it's an itch I have to scratch right now... I'll have my old bread and butter along and can switch after day 1 if I don't like the carbine. We will see.