Vaquería, a wild-cattle hunt. Wild cattle by the millions roamed the Pampa during the colonial era. Although it lacked deposits of precious metals, the Río de la Plata became a wealth-producing region thanks to its huge herds of wild cattle and horses. In vaquerías, whether licensed or illegal, gauchos used a hocking blade (desjarretadera) to sever the tendon of a cow's hind leg. Then, after crippling hundreds of animals, the riders returned to slaughter and skin them. Once sun-dried, the hides were ready for export. Vaquerías gradually depleted the number of animals on the pampa. By the mid-eighteenth century, Estancias began to replace these wild-cattle hunts as the primary means of exploiting livestock.
Emilio Coni, Historia de las vaquerías de Río de la Plata (1930).
Madaline Wallis Nichols, The Gaucho (1968), pp. 22-25.
Richard W. Slatta, Cowboys of the Americas (1990), pp. 12-14.
Assunção, Fernando O. Historia del gaucho: El gaucho, ser y quehacer. Buenos Aires: Editorial Claridad, 1999.
Richard W. Slatta