Georgiahunter, .308 or .270 should suit the need nicely in Georgia woods or over clearcuts. As far as the brand of the rifle, it's sort of what fits your budget. Personally, I'm a Remington fan with the bolt gun and M1A with the autoloader.
I have owned and shot whitetails with both calibers. I hunt in Missouri, and shots are under 150 yards. I prefer the .308 Win, and it's siblings (7mm-08, .243) hands down. Less recoil and short action. I use a Marlin XS7 in .308 and love it.
If you are hunting over bean fields and taking 200yd+ shots than the .30-06 family (.270, .25-06) has an advantage.
As far as optics... Nikon Prostaff or Redfield Revolution in 3-9x40 is hard to beat for the money.
I just received a new remington 750,308 cal,and theirs rust spots on the barrel,also the recoil pad looks like a kid installed it,doesn't line up with the but of the gun!I keep trying to call remington,but can't seem get anyone to talk to about it.