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I know that NC permits open carry but I'm actually interested in cultural implications of running into people in the woods who may be weirded out by it. I've hiked a lot in places where it's legal but seen only a few guys do it.

Basically, if I'm hiking around Ashville area and carrying openly, will I be getting undue attention on myself or it's cool like in some western states?

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    I can't speak for NC residents so I won't make an answer, but I would recommend you do searches on Google and/or YouTube for queries such as "North Carolina open carry" and try to find peoples reactions to it. Even if you don't like the reactions you find, it may give you a feel for what to expect. You could also try "North Carolina open carry police encounters" to see if it is common to get stopped for open carrying. A lot of places are intolerant even if it's perfectly legal, and some people get arrested even where it's legal, so seeing how cops respond in an area might change your mind. – Loduwijk Dec 23 '19 at 19:22
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    FYI - if you're carrying for bear protection this is an X Y problem. – whatsisname Dec 24 '19 at 4:30
  • No, the reason is unimportant – amphibient Dec 24 '19 at 4:47
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Rather than ask a bunch of questions, I'm going to answer this from a general sense about the pros and cons.

Which park are you going to?

-NC Law allows open carry in a motor vehicle, and allows open carry in areas outside of public-owned buildings, on the grounds or parking areas of those buildings, and public parks and recreation areas where further regulations MAY restrict those rights.

https://opencarry.org/state-info-n-s/north-carolina/

How populous is the area you're going to be?

-If you're concerned about how other people are going to react, then it really matters how many people you're likely to interact with (for multiple reasons). If you're through hiking and don't expect to see many people, you are ALSO more likely to encounter wildlife. If you're doing a day hike out and back and will likely run across 20+ other groups then you're almost guaranteed not to run into any sort of predatory wildlife.

Since you're worried about cultural implications and perception, this will play into it a lot more in people's minds as well. If the farthest you're going is 2 hours away from the car park, you're more likely to be perceived as carrying it 'just because' in my opinion. If you're on a multi-day hike and in an area that's known to have more frequent bear activity (I say more frequent because bear encounters in western NC are still pretty rare), you're more likely to get a pass. Even the most anti-gun people I know are a little more understanding in situations like that, but understand that many people will forego stopping for a bit to chat with someone who is openly carrying.

Lastly, consider a flare gun, if this really bothers you. There are better ways to scare off a bear than with a gun. Both for you AND the bear. I can't conceive of a single scenario where a gun is going to keep you from getting bit from a snake, but a flare gun might get you found. A flare gun is more likely to be useful if you break your leg than a regular gun. For most other animals, a flare gun is going to be sufficient to drive them off if you do find yourself in the astronomically low odds of an actual attack.

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  • Even if you are perceived as carrying it "just because" do you think that would be a problem for most North Carolinians? For some people, carrying "just because" is just fine. – Loduwijk Dec 23 '19 at 19:18
  • Why do you wish to carry it? Are you worried about two or four legged predators? – Sherwood Botsford Dec 25 '19 at 18:58
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Basically, if I'm hiking around Ashville area and carrying openly, will I be getting undue attention on myself or it's cool like in some western states?

Ashville is a pretty liberal town, and not just by NC standards. Further, while it is rural and in the mountains and hunting is common, open carry around town is rare. On trails, and particularly the Appalachian Trail, open carry guns are very rare since you do not need them to protect yourself from animals (or fellow hikers).

I'm actually interested in cultural implications of running into people in the woods who may be weirded out by it.

I doubt hikers in NC will be too weirded out by someone who is openly carrying. Unless you are a local, they probably will dismiss you as someone who doesn't know anything useful as you are, after all, carrying a heavy and useless gun. They may choose to move on from rest stops and camping places, but they likely wouldn't.

If you are legally allowed to carry a gun and you want to, you should not have any problems.

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