I believe that I will answer your post in 2 parts. First, before you do anything, LEARN TO SHOOT!!! I do not intend to be insulting, but in the world of guns it is always safety first. Talk to the range owner, get a instructor, take lessons from an old guy or buy a handgun class for Christmas. Your brother/brother-inlaw ect... is fine except that they are not the professional training that you need to "get up to speed" in this hobby. If you want to learn to shoot & hunt get a condensed course from a guy that knows how to teach.I have been shooting for 40 years and have learned a lot, I also learned that I am a poor instructor for my own kids. Now I will get off my soapbox, as far as your choices the .22 is the best all around tool to learn to shoot a gun with, period. Next, the .357 mag is a good all around choice; but a hunting gun and a carry gun are two different requirements. If you want a hunting .357 look at a 6 inch barrel, Taurus and Ruger may be your best priced guns. Be advised that you can shoot 38 spl from a .357 and learn to shoot the larger (than .22) caliber gun. As far as a rifle, DO NOT BUY USED, the reason is that you do not have the knowledge to avoid a poor decision. Look at the "package" savage or remington rifle/scope combos at the big box stores; they are new rifles and are good entry level guns. The Mossberg is a good choice, and is the same type of entry rifle I mentioned. The choice of caliber is yours to make, .308 is fine, 30-06 is fine and .270 is also on the short list; these calibers will take all common game in North America. Plan to buy a good bit of ammo and a cleaning kit with a good bore cleaner, you need to spend some time at the rifle range and know how to clean your gun when finished. Maybe you could learn to shoot a rifle with a .22 and save money, but you will have to learn to shoot whatever you buy and get used to the recoil. Welcome aboard and have fun.