Do You Open Carry When You Hike?

BY Herschel Smith
3 years ago

There is an interesting discussion thread at reddit/guns on whether you open carry when you hike.  There is some good information, some bad.  Take it all with a grain of salt.

We have discussed open carry before, and how laws against open carry are an artifact of Jim Crow laws.  They should all be repealed, each and every one of them.  Furthermore, see my Christians, The Second Amendment And The Duty Of Self Defense for a discussion of the ubiquity of weapons and their open carry in Colonial America.

But regarding the open carry of weapons when you hike or camp, you should do it.  There are threats in the East, from Coyotes (which can be aggressive), to Black Bear, to snakes and other threats.  In the West the problem becomes even more severe, with Brown Bear, Cougar (Mountain Lion, Panther or various other names), and even Jaguar in the Southwest.  And of course, there is the omnipresent threat of evil humans with which to contend.

The discussion thread gives some examples of threats (and also see here), and I have given an example of a man who saved his life by carrying a .45 pistol while camping.  Whether legal in any specific state or not, open carry is wise in the wilds since need for the weapon is likely to be an immediate and urgent need.

However unsafe you are in urban America, you are even less safe when you go into the wilds.  Carry weapons.  Have them at your rapid disposal.  Know how to use them.  Don’t be a victim.

  • MamaLiberty

    I live in the wild, rural high plains of Wyoming, but the threats from even wild animals are not limited to the winderness by any means. Mountain lions and other big cats are fairly rare, since they are actually shy, but they have been seen and even shot in many large cities across the country. Bears and even wolves are becoming more of a problem as well.

    And the two legged predators are, of course, found evereywhere and seldom give as much “warning” as does a snake.

    I carry a gun all the time, everywhere, usually OC. I carry a gun–Get over it

    Someone asked me the other day if I didn’t think that was pretty extreme, especially since we have virtually no crime here. She insisted that I’d never need to use it. I just smiled at her and said, “Wouldn’t that be wonderful?”

  • MamaLiberty

    Sorry about the duplicate. I couldn’t see any comment posted after a glitch with my script blocker. Please delete. Thanks!

  • Mike Austin

    For 14 years I lived, worked and backpacked alone all over Central and South America. It was nearly impossible to carry a firearm except for my time in the Chaco of Paraguay when I had a shotgun. Wild pigs, panthers and caimans ran wild there, and I was glad for the weapon. I was also glad that for once I was predator and not prey. At all other times I had to deal with any number of jungle critters armed only with a machete. Sometimes I was just this side of terrified. There were also a number of unplanned meetings with Indians, robbers and guerrillas, all of which saw me unarmed save for my big mouth and ridiculous attitude—which got me out of these mostly unscathed.

    I now live in Oklahoma, which for me is Heaven on earth—especially for its gun culture. I have spent ten years backpacking and camping all over this state, and in Wyoming, New Mexico, Montana, Idaho, Utah, Arkansas and Colorado. I always—but always—carried openly. A year ago while in Glacier National Park a ranger almost begged me to carry my .44 Magnum right in plain sight.

    These days I would not consider going anywhere into the wilds without the ability to protect myself against predators four legged or otherwise. That means openly carrying a firearm—usually my .44 Magnum, but sometimes my .40 semi-auto—where I can get to it with a minimum of fuss and bother. My life might depend upon it.

    I see it as foolish to venture unarmed into the wilds. But it is almost equally foolish to arm yourself but keep the weapon in the backpack. Of what good is it hidden away where it cannot be obtained immediately upon seeing a threat?

    My advice to those who wish to open carry while hiking or backpacking is this: Acquire a CC permit in your home state. Know which other states have a reciprocal relationship concerning your state’s firearms license. Check which states allow open carry in forest lands, state parks and such. Make sure your firearm is attached to your body in such a way that the backpack or daypack does not hinder its immediate availability if the need arises. And of course practice before leaving home.

  • RAN58

    I always carry whether in an urban setting or rural. Sometimes I open carry sometimes concealed in the woods. But never deep concealed. Generally I have a shirt that hangs over my pistol which I carry on my belt. So I just need to lift my shirt and access my pistol. I’ve only had to draw it once. Shortly after my family and I finished fishing we were walking on a trail returning to our vehicle. I heard some noise on a trail and a dog barking ad getting closer, so I drew my pistol (a Kimber .45) and aimed it where I thought the animal would appear. Sure enough a pit bull appeared on the trail snarling and barking, but he immediately stopped when he saw me standing with my .45 aimed at him. I yelled out loud, “If this pit bull is your dog call him back now or he’s dead.” Some scraggly looking guy who was camping in the woods yelled out and the dog left. When I turned to see how my family was, my wife was standing behind me with her .38 in hand prepared to back me up (gotta love her). And our teen daughters were behind her. We walked the rest of the way to our car with our gun’s in hand. Me in front, my wife bringing up the rear.

  • Herschel Smith

    That’s why I’m always very careful when my dog is with me on trips. I make sure (usually) that I have pretty tight control and I know where she is. There is always the possibility that she scares someone (she is a big girl), but there is the higher probability that she gets into trouble. She and snakes just seem to tangle with each other. And she and large bodies of water just seem to be trouble. And she and … you get the picture.

  • Mark Matis

    Are you SURE, RAN58, that your wife was prepared to back you up? Or was she merely like the guy who carried a .22 pistol when he went hiking in the Alaskan wilderness with his brother-in-law? Of course, the .22 would not stop any determined predator. But one shot in his bil’s knee would give the predator an easier meal while he got away…

You are currently reading "Do You Open Carry When You Hike?", entry #10990 on The Captain's Journal.

This article is filed under the category(s) Camping,Guns and was published July 7th, 2013 by Herschel Smith.

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