I've had a mini-14 for many years, and it's a blast. Not the most accurate thing in the safe, but a lot of fun to shoot, and mine's been incredibly reliable. With only two moving parts in the action, it don't know how to mess up.
Mini-30 is all that plus the 7.62 X 39 cartridge, which many have compared ballistically to the .30-30; deer hunting is definitely doable. Think of it as an American SKS with fewer moving parts and detachable magazines. And in this day and age, 7.62 X 39 is much mo cheaper than .223.