I grew up in a family of avid deer hunters. My father and my uncles on both my mother's side of the family and my father's side shot Remington 742's. 6 of them were chambered to .30-'06 and one was chambered to .308. A few of the fellows in our camp used a lever action .30-30. One alternated between a pump-action Remington in .300 Savage and a battered Model 94.
We hunted a lot of places, but hunted every season in Southern California's D-14 zone in the San Bernardino Mountains, where one of my uncles owned (and still owns) the "family hunting camp."
We're not talking about the dense "Eastern Woods" here. We hunted the desert slope of the range, a semi-arid country of mixed pinion forest and wide open spaces. It was a country where a buck could present you with a shot at 30 yards or 300, or even more.
My father, who shot a late-sixties vintage 742 Remington with the "basket weave" motif mentioned by a prior poster, once used that rifle to shoot a four-point very nearly a quater of a mile away. It dropped to a single 165 grain Sierra Gameking Hollow-Point that obliterated its heart. I'd seen others in our camp take deer out to over 300 yards with these Remington autoloaders, too. They might not win a bench-rest match, but they'll drop a buck as far out as anyone should probably be trying to shoot one, and probably farther than that.
None of these men hunt now. Most are deceased. Those still living have illnesses that prevent them from hunting. The older ones served in Korea, had military training with semi-automatic Garands,and then went to war with them, so going semi-auto in their sporting armament probably seemed a fairly natural thing to do. I know that was the case with my father, who served in the military right at the time that the M-14 was replaced by the M-16. You couldn't tell any of these men that a semi-auto rifle couldn't shoot accurately enough to get the job done in the field. They had, after all, used semi-automatic rifles on the most dangerous animals there are -other human beings also armed and firing back- under some of the worst conditions imaginable.
I've shot my father's 742 Remington a number of times. With ammo that it likes, it'll put five shots into 1 1/2 to 1 3/4 inch groups and is a very pleasant rifle to shoot.
One fellow in our camp did have jamming problems with his 742, but one look at his pitted chamber pretty much told you why. He liked to practice in the off-season with cheap and corrosive surplus ammo and appearently didn't like to clean his rifle afterwards. I'd never seen any of the others fail, even when hunting elk in southern Colorado during snowstorms.
When I was old enough to buy my own rifle, I took advantage of a "sweetheart deal" and purchased a 1927 vintage Griffin and Howe Springfield, making me the only turn-bolt user in the family camp for many years. I bought it because I was a big Hemingway fan when I was kid and "Papa" used a Springfield on safari in Africa, so I figured it must be a good rifle. When it was damaged by fire many years later, I replaced it with the CZ 550 that I shoot currently.
I don't hunt deer very much now, but I do hunt pigs. Here in California, you can hunt pigs throughout the year, and that's part of the reason why I've gravitated toward them as my "big game animal of choice."
My wife wants to hunt pigs with me this year, but she doesn't like the recoil of my CZ 550. She can shoot a 12 guage 11-87 on the sporting clays course all day without complaint, though.
I had her try my dad's 742, and she loved it. We recently bought her a Remington semi-auto of her own.
The one we got -which I assume to be fairly recent production in .30-'06- has satin-finsihed wood and a really neat roll-engraving of a group of sheep on one side of the reciever and elk on the other. It looks tasteful, too, rather than cheap. The trigger is decent -about what she's accustomed to with her 11-87, so she has no complaints. The best part, though, is that she can hit what she aims at with it and can fire it all day long at the range when we go out to practice.
Do her groups match what I can do with with my turn-bolt CZ? Well, uh, no, they don't. Is a 275 pound hog going to notice the difference if it gets hit with one of her rounds or one of mine? I don't think so. Would I hunt with my wife's Remington semi-auto? I don't know. I do know that it is awfully comfortable to shoot and it's sufficently precise to kill a pig out to 350 yards or more. It's also a very pretty rifle with the game scenes on the reciever... If I didn't already have the CZ 550, I'd be awfully tempted.
The long winded point of all of this is that my presonal relaity where it comes to semi-automatic hunting rifles doesn't seem remotely close to what the "gun scribes" suggest it should be. Having seen what they can do in the field first-hand over most of my lifetime, I wouldn't hesitate to recommend one, particularly to someone like my wife, who is recoil-sensitive but needs a certain level of downrange "thump" to get the job done.