Lots if great suggestions here. It seems you are looking for a smaller carry alternative to your hammer of a 444. Considering that I see why you are going 10inch and perhaps a round with less recoil. I have hunted and competively shot with many Contenders from 8 inch to 15 inch with irons and various optics and While I love my 14 inch guns I would prefer a 10 inch if my hunting was in tight cover with shots always under 75 yards as you note. The 10 inch guns are much easier to shoot offhand and to carry in a holster. What optics are you considering?
"Therefore go and make disciples of all nations,... "
Handgun hunter since 1979 - haven't used a rifle since!
HHI member #992, NRA, SCI.