I would consider alternative actions, but I like the simplicity of a bolt-gun. I do know people with and have used lever and pump rifles - good guns, but not what I'm looking for at this moment.
While we're at it, I'm considering .308. It's a common, fairly affordable, and funstional round for what I plan on doing. Additionally, I am a smaller framed/lightweight guy with limited rifle experience - so I'm looking for something that I can control right away. - I havn't tried 30-06 (though I hear good things) but I have some experience with 7mm Rem Mag - I handle it okay, but I can't use it to it's potential, and I want something that I can be more confortable with.
Anyone have a recomendation on a calibre beyond .308? Keeping in mind I want LESS recoil than 7MM, and I assume 30-06, or other common large calibres.
Felt recoil has more to do w/ the firearm then the caliber. There should be a good deal on a 6.5x55 in your neck of the woods. You won't be undergunned in the least. Bigger is not always better.
For alternative calibers with even (a little) less recoil than the .308 you could look to the 7-08 Rem or the .260 Rem. They are both derived from by necking down the .308 (as is the .243 Win and then the .338 Fed comes from necking the .308 up) Either one will cleanly take any game animal in North America and is an absolute joy to shoot.