Buckenara first played senior football for Subiaco in the West Australian Football League from 1979 to 1981. Subiaco agreed to lease him for three years for $210,000 and after a court case began his career at Hawthorn. His kicking was highly regarded by his teammates and his reputation in football was assured when he kicked a goal after the siren in the 1987 Preliminary Final to defeat Melbourne.
During his time at Hawthorn, Buckenara played 154 games, usually playing in the centre or at half-forward when he had problems with his knees. He kicked 293 goals, won four premierships and played in one losing Grand Final team. He played for his state regularly from 1979 onwards and was selected as the Western Australian captain. In 1983, 85 and 86, he was named in the All Australian Team. His career ended early due to knee injuries, and he moved into coaching. He was appointed senior coach of the Sydney Swans in 1992 but was replaced in the middle of the 1993 season, when the Swans were performing quite badly. He returned to his original club Subiaco to coach in 1995 and 1996 and is now one of the staff at Hawthorn. In 2003, he was named in the Hawthorn Team of the Century.