I've been pretty much through the whole cycle. I got my first one shortly after college. I got another a few years later. Two rifles for Kentucky and a shotgun for Ohio were plenty. The bug hit after I got the farm back in 2001.
The first two were 30-06 and they shot the same ammo, so this time I wanted something different. I'd always had an eye towards 30-30, so I went and got a Marlin. The 30-30 didn't impress me, but I liked the Lever action. I went and got a Savage99 in .308 WIN. That started a deluge. Finally, a few years ago, I realized it was getting to be a hassle sighting in all those deer rifles every year, and I throttled back.
There's still ones I want. However, the current crop got me to where I could at least make reasonable decisions on where I wanted to go.
Here are some things I've learned. I've plumbed the depths beyond 40 cal. and it holds no major allure for me anymore. I thought it would, but it wasn't as much fun as I thought. 35 Whelen is great! However, it does not perform on whitetail any better than 30-06 at the ranges I normally shoot. Dead is dead.
Smaller and faster than 30-06 is fine. There's nothing wrong with .270 WIN or .280 Rem. There's just no reason to go there. One of these days I'm going to go that route and get into something like 25-06 or 257 Roberts or some such and really plumbs its depths and that will be what I enjoy in my dotage. I may even try to take a deer with .223 REM . You never know.
Overall it took me about 10 years to find a combination I really liked, and now my days of massive acquisitions are probably over. I know where I'm going to be hunting for the next 20 years. I know the cartridges inside and out. I have the dies, the powders and the bullets in bulk quantities.
What? Shaman, are getting ready to lay down and die? No, when I do go back to acquiring, it'll probably be something exotic. I've thought about going back to round ball and black powder. A flintlock Kentucky Rifle and probably a Brown Bess are on the bucket list. That will keep me busy. If I do any long-distance work, it'll be at paper and not on life targets. I've got inside 200 yards well covered. I've got Kentucky whitetails and Kentucky Elk well covered and Ohio and their shotgun-only rules have been covered well for 30 years.