DZ, I cannot over-emphasize how well-advised you would be to listen to the good folks on this site, as there are literally centuries worth of experience that you're drawing from. I hunted 10 seasons just north of Neillsville, WI and most of the deer I've killed with my 270 Win came from the sloughs and oak ridges in that area.
When it comes to caliber, it doesn't matter a whole lot because anything from the 243 Winchester to the 338 Win Mag will meet the goals you listed above, no problem. Whether you choose a 7-08, 270, 308 or 30-'06, or any one of dozens of other options, you'll be fine. The Marlin "X" gun is a very good rifle for cost-conscious hunters. However, when it comes to the optics you put on that rifle, I have to say you're not even in the ballpark.
I would rather have a $150 rifle with a $300 scope, than a $1,500 rifle and a $100 scope...and that is the truth. When it comes to "glass", you put the very best you can afford on your gun and you take care of it. I strongly recommend products along the lines of the latest Redfield, Nikon Buckmaster, Burris Fullfield, etc. Look to spend $200 - $400 on a quality scope. (Yeah, I KNOW that's as much as the gun costs, but with scopes, what you "see" is what you get!)
You'd be better off with a high-quality 2-7x scope than a cheap(er) sight with greater magnification. I've hunted for almost 30 years and in my opinion there is very little big game hunting that calls for more than 7 power magnification. I shot a 3" group at 287 yards with a 7x scope this summer...that'll do. Higher magnification does not equal more accurate shooting; it takes quality rifles/scopes and lots of trigger time to do that.
The Marlin in 30-'06 is halfway there to hitting a home run! Put a decent scope on it and handload some great ammo and you'll be trotting around the bases! Hmmm, it must be MLB playoff season?