There's lots of good advice here about brands and types of rifle to look out for, and, yes, your local gun shop would be a great place to start. See what's in your price range, and what feels good to you -- the quality of most modern rifles is such that for your intended use, it'll be hard to go wrong.
That said, don't buy more gun than you need. Consider that you'll need to shoot the thing quite a bit at the range, not just to sight it in, but to be proficient with it. You don't need a magnum caliber; centerfire ammunition isn't cheap, especially in larger calibers, and recoil can be significant enough to interfere with your learning curve.
My one piece of advice: take the hunter safety course
offered by the Alabama Division of Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries, even if you're old enough not to be required to do so. It's free, unless you opt for one of the online or CD-ROM versions of the first part of the course-- they offer several formats -- and it covers "firearms safety and handling, responsible hunting and hunter ethics, wildlife laws, wildlife management and identification, archery, muzzleloading, first aid, survival, and game care."