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I'm planning a hunting trip to Missouri for next year with myself an two friend's coming from Tennessee an was thinking of staying in Rolla an was wondering how far away we would be from good public hunting ground an curious of how swamped the woods are with other hunters through rifle season
Missouri has a lot of good public land and private too if you can get permission.
If you're going to come during rifle season, and want to avoid crowds, I would suggest the Mark Twain National Forest in south central Missouri. Rolla will be a little far from the less crowded areas, I suggest looking at some of the smaller towns farther south. There will still be plenty of other hunters, but you can find some good spots if you're willing to work for it. Smaller bucks on average in southern MO, but still quality deer and decent numbers.
If you want to come for a bow hunt, I would suggest somewhere in northern MO on Missouri Department of Conservation land. There's plenty of it and if you come during the week you should be able to avoid crowds of other hunters.
Here's a link to the Missouri Dept. of Conservation site for conservation areas. You can search by area name, county, or nearby (by city name or zip code). From the results I saw , there are a number of areas not too far away from Rolla. Can't say what areas would be good for rifle hunting from the list I saw. Rolla is a decent sized town, and a college town, so the closer areas may be a bit busy during rifle season. Hope it helps