Driving from SD. Are all the public grounds hit pretty hard? I think there's a gap between seasons this year in MO. Muzz huting starts in late December. Hopefully there's still some big boys rolling around.
If I've got my dates right regular rifle season is the 14th-24th and doe season is the 25th-6th. They get a few days off and muzzle loader season picks up the 19th to the 29th. Being pressured that long sends many bucks into the dark and if there is any snow on they become very nocturnal.
I have not hunted public land in years, but the size of the orange army gets bigger every year. The past few years there has been some good deer taken on public ground during early archery season and each year after the word gets out the number of cars in the parking lots grow.
If you can find a place that has not been heavily pressured they will calm down and come back out of hiding. As with anywhere else, they are there.....it's only a matter of being there at the right time.
I could see the small band of mule deer picking their way towards me through the sagebrush 800 plus yards away. With my 10 power binoculars I spotted a legal buck bringing up the tail. I dropped down and crouched behind a large chunk of sage just waiting for them to pass within range. Unfortunately, they stopped and began milling around before finally settling down, with a few of them laying down right out in the open. They were not going to come to me; if I wanted any closer, I'd...