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.
As I sit and glass, which is common for hunters out west, I have sort of quickly discovered something I never learned when I was younger.
In my youth I had enthusiasm and spirit. In my middle to advancing years I have creaky knees, arthritis, and I tire more easily than I used to. Where I used to sit on the cold hard ground I now look for that soft spot to sooth my tired muscles. That leads me to my tip.
Carry your soft spot with you!
In my pack I carry an air filled, ultralight, camping pad....