You have the right idea - go used. You can probably find a nice custom for 2-300$ if you look for a little while. Look at classifieds on the Leatherwall and Trad Gang - lots of great used bows out there.
Bear Montanas are amazing bows for the money. I had one for a few years and loved it, sold it to help pay for my Super Kodiak. Try the leatherwall. Also, for $300 you could easily score a used Martin Savannah. Never shot one but I've also never heard a bad word about them.
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