Few people have impacted the world of bushcraft and survival as much as Canadian legend Mors Kochanski (pronounced koe-hahn-skee).

Mors Kochanski

While the Kochanskis were originally from Poland, by 1938, Mors’ parents understood it was time to leave Europe.

Things were rapidly changing for the worse, and so they packed their bags and headed to the middle of nowhere, Canada. Mors would be born in Canada two years later.

A Hillbilly Changes the World

Raised on an isolated farm in the middle of the wilderness, Mors lived in a home without electricity until he was 10 years old.

He walked several miles to school each day across the backcountry, spending his free time foraging for mushrooms with his mother and trapping and tanning weasels and squirrels with his brother.

When he came of age, he finally enlisted in the Royal Canadian Navy.

It was this background combined with his avid love of books (his home library would later contain an estimated 300,000 volumes) that led to his passion for everything “outdoors” — in particular, what he would later dub to be “bushcraft.”

Mors’s passion for books stuck with him throughout his life. (Photo: Master Woodsman)

Kochanski’s career kicked off when he was 32 years old as he began a professorship at the University of Alberta as an outdoor instructor.

This experience, combined with his working with Karamat, a bushcraft/survival skills course business, led to his completely revolutionizing the world of bushcraft and passing on his skills to countless people across the globe.

New Thoughts on an Old Subject

One of the ways that Mors brought about this change was through the new techniques that he brought to the field.

Despite humans across the globe having lived in primitive conditions since the time of cavemen, Mors still discovered better ways to protect one’s self in a survival situation.

Mors standing next to an open Super Shelter. (Photo: Master Woodsman)

The Super Shelter, deluxe bush bed, flip flop winch, and the hypothermia finger test were all just some of the new inventions that Mors brought to the field of bushcraft.

His work was so game-changing that soldiers from Sweden, Canada, the United Kingdom, and America were sent to study with him so that they could bring his techniques back home.

A video demonstrating the flip flip, or two-pole, winch that Mors pioneered.

His influence wasn’t just limited to his new inventions; it also included his new way of doing things and the gear he popularized.

Mors brought Mora knives to North America and popularized the idea of carrying one’s knife around their neck.

He also believed that full-sized tools, like axes and saws, were needed to survive winter conditions rather than the ultralight gear that backpackers typically carry.


at Blade HQ

Prices accurate at time of writing

Prices accurate at time of writing

Specializing in winter survival in deciduous forests, Mors knew that these environments created a race against the clock when it came to hypothermia.

He argued that carrying full-sized tools was one’s best bet of stacking the odds in his favor.

Mors inspecting several axes. (Photo: Master Woodsman)

A Lasting Legacy

One of the primary methods Mors used to spread his ideas was writing. While he was a prolific author of survival pamphlets previously, it was his 1988 text, Bushcraft, that came to be widely considered the best book on the subject ever written.

(Photo: Master Woodsman)

Mors passed away on December 5, 2019, at the age of 79. He left behind a lifetime of knowledge that is invaluable to this day.

This is a new style of article for Pew Pew Tactical, if you liked it — let us know in the comments! If you didn’t enjoy it…well phooey. To catch up on previous Pictures from History, click on over to our History Category.

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