Making the rifle more compact and better balanced will go along way toward making it less of a burden to carry. Cut the barrel to 18", mount a lighter scope with light weight rings and mounts will help. you need a good sling.
I agree to a point you are correct about a more compact rifle being less of a burden. However I don't think just cutting a barrel back to 18" is going to help with balance. I like hunting rifles that balance at the front action screw or that are slightly muzzle heavy around an inch or two in front of the action screw. They tend to settle better for offhand shooting you have to do sometimes hunting. Just cutting a barrel to 18" will often times make your rifle butt heavy which isn't what I like to carry. My opinion as well slings should be shooting aids more than useful for carrying your rifle.