I OC on my motorcycle all the time. I live in the dreaded county of Durham, too. There are many who don't have a CHP and carry daily without any problems.
As far as contesting the sheriff's decision, you have the option to go in front of a district court judge and get the sheriff's decision overturned (NCGS 14-415.15(c ))
The problem isn't that you got a misdemeanor, its that it was a crime of violence. See NCGS 14-415.12(b)(8)