Gaucho Tinker: When the writers in Argentina turned to their own land tour for inspiration, it was inevitable that they should choose the gaucho for their theme.
The most logical explanation of the etymology of the word is that comes from the Quichua or Aimará word “huajcho”, meaning an orphan or poor person.
In this cattle producing areas the gauchos played a romantic and often heroic part.
The men, mind and manners of the pampas according to gaucho Tinker:
On the broad pampas (Quichua word meaning space) roamed unnumbered wild cattle and horses, descendants of those brought over by the early Conquistadores.
They were the country’s greatest source of wealth, and were so numerous that the law permitted any one to round up in an Estancia and brand up to 12,000 head in a tour.
If they wanted more, they had to get a special permit from the Buenos Aires governor.
This gave rise to a body of fearless riders, called gauchos, who made a business of hunting wild cattle for their hides and tallow, or of driving them to estancias to be marked and gentled.
Thus it was that, unlike the North American cowboy, who followed civilization, the gaucho preceded it and helped to make it possible by garnering the natural resources and protecting the frontiers against the Indians.
Huge expeditions were organized for this tour of huntings, with as many as a thousand head of saddle horses and great convoys of lumbering two-wheeled carts drawn by oxen.
Once in sight of a herd in the pampa, the gauchos galloped on horseback after them and hamstrung as many as possible with their big knives, called facones, or with medialunas, long bamboo spears shod with crescents of sharpened steel.
It was no trick for eighteen or twenty horsemen gauchos to maim seven or eight hundred animals in an hour.
by Edward Larocque Tinker: Reference in Wikipedia
More information about Gaucho culture: The Gaucho Experience