"Buccaneer" today signifies a pirate or privateer, especially those in the 17th century who operated from the West Indies to the north Atlantic coast of America.
Originally "buccaneer" meant hunters of wild oxen, pigs, and manatees on the island of Hispaniola (the island that today includes the Dominican Republic and Haiti). The term derives from the Arawak word "buccan," a wooden frame for smoking meat. The French word "boucane" evolved from the Arawak, and the derivative "boucanier" came to mean French hunters who used such frames.
It was a short step to the English word "buccaneer." Early English, Dutch, and French pirates often came from the ranks of buccaneers, so the word soon came to refer to the pirates who attacked and plundered Spanish vessels and sometimes entire coastal towns of the West Indies.
By 1684, with the publication of the first English translation of Alexandre Exquemelin's book The Buccaneers of America the term became universally associated with pirates.
This month's Ocracoke Newsletter is a reproduction of a 1960s booklet titled The Great Ocracoke Cat Hunt. You can read it here: http://www.villagecraftsmen.com/news092115.htm.