Mors Kochanski’s Wilderness Living Skills/Survival Course 2013 by Kyle R. Ver Steeg II, M.D.

My approach to the outdoors has always been to learn what is needed to be comfortable in a given environment.  With the advent of shows like Dual Survivor and others, there seems to have been a shift towards ‘Survival’ as a mentality towards the outdoors.  While the term ‘Survival’ creates great marketing opportunities, it tends to make people view the outdoors as a hostile place.  The woods is not out to get you.  Further, indigenous people in any given area do not separate ‘survival’ skills out from normal living.  There is no need to.  Living is just living and the methods of doing so are learned over the course of a lifetime.

An igloo we built on the course. Instructors on the left of the frame (in order): Kelly Harlton, Dragan Uzelac and Grant Callegari.

I am fairly comfortable on the plains.  I grew up in a little wooded section of the Great Plains.  A few years ago I decided to learn how to be comfortable in other environments.  I have made significant progress towards that goal in jungle and desert.  There is, however, another biome in which I needed to gain experience – the Boreal Forest.

Cooking Salmon over the fire.

The Boreal Forest, also called Taiga, is a northern biome that stretches around the globe through Canada, Northern Europe and Russia.  It is characterized by coniferous trees like Black Spruce and others, interspersed with deciduous trees like birch, alder, willow and poplar.  There are also a large variety of animals.  Bears and Moose are two species found in Canada.

The Boreal Forest is attractive because there is so much of it.  While there are differences within the biome, most of the skills and knowledge transfer and are adaptable in other parts.  Canada is very accessible to me and I think that if I can get comfortable there, I can branch out to other parts of the world.  The same thing holds true for jungle and desert.

Randy Breeuwsma showing one of the shelters on the course.

Whenever I am seeking training, I always try to find teachers and programs that really stand out from the crowd as being excellent.  My research led me to Karamat Wilderness Ways and to Mors Kochanski.  I signed up for their winter course and I was not disappointed.  In fact I was blown away by the quality of the instructors, the material presented and the hospitality of Randy and Lori Breeuwsma, who run Karamat.  In addition to Mors Kochanski, three other instructors participated, allowing 4 instructors for 10 students.  Kelly Harlton and Grant Callegari did most of the skills teaching.  Dragan Uzelac did some teaching, but as an apprentice instructor he saw mostly to the daily living in camp.  Mors Kochanski taught for a minimum of 6 hours a day and often stayed late to chat with us about different topics.

Signal fire built on the course.

If you have read the book ‘Bushcraft’ or the same book by an older title ‘Northern Bushcraft’, then you know that Mors knows what he is talking about.  The thing that impressed me most about him is that he is so incredibly well read and everything he teaches and writes about is backed up by both extensive research and extensive testing.  Kelly Harlton and Grant Callegari are the same way.  Kelly has a very strong ability to break complex skills down into simple, teachable concepts.  He is a patient teacher and has a very pleasant demeanor.  Grant has some of the best knife skills I have ever seen.  Watching him work is like watching a master artist.

Buck Saw built on the course.

I learned a lot from the course.  I am considering signing up for the Summer course when time allows.  If you are interested, I have been posting videos of the course in a playlist on my YouTube channel.

I have a lot of videos on my channel and not all of them are related to the outdoors.  I basically just cover topics that interest me and I use it as a video diary for my kids to enjoy some day.

If you are interested in a Karamat course, you can read all about them at

Editors note:  Karamat is listed in our ‘Schools – West’ section under ‘Training’ here at  Mors’ books may also be found in our Literature section.  We are huge fans of anything to do with Mors and Randy.  Double check later under Events at Master Woodsman, as Mors, Randy and others from the Karamat team should be at the 2nd Woodsmoke event.



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