I would not carry an unloaded auto, or revovler. If i were to carry on my hikes, it would be loaded and ready. From my personal experiences, wild animals are very smart and fast, i think even when i do have my revolver on me (loaded) it would hard to shoot, that is why a knife on the side is a good idea. On the other hand, Schmeddie have you considered carrying a knife like i said, maybe something atleast with an sheath and 5inch blade, i think this would be a good tool, instead of u.o.c? Also what part of CA, are you in, i'm a frequent hiker, mtn biker.