Twenty years ago I did this with the hair off and was successful. I've only done it that one time. My wife is a seamstress and expressed interest in a fur. My brother is an avid hunter and provided one.
I used a PVC pipe as a beam and scraped the meat and fat off. It took almost four and a half hours to complete this. Way more work than I remembered. However, the first time I did this I had my brother's help and had the hide on a stretcher frame. I think that would have been way better on my back, neck and shoulders.
I didn't have a brain yet (some would say that's why I took on this project). So, I salted it down good (about six pounds). I changed the salt every day and eventually used about thirty pounds of salt to get to a dry hide.
I got a deer brain from a processor. I found a sand castle buckets the kids weren't going to want back.
I mashed it up with my hands.
The result is watery brain stuff.
I spread it all over the flesh side of the hide, folded it on itself and let it sit overnight. It was cold but didn't freeze.
More manual labor. For the next twelve hours with only a few short breaks I worked. I first tried breaking it across a rope, but gave up quick because it kept rolling on itself and pulling our hairs.
I ended up using the edge of a board nailed to a tree. This worked very well and I was able to lean my shoulder against the tree to keep from straining my back. I worked it like this until it started raining. I did the very last of the breaking sitting on the back porch breaking across my knees.
I built a smudge fire in a twelve inch deep hole. I built a tee pee out of some old easel parts. I ened up having to prop the edges of the hide up away from the fire with sticks. I kept the fire pretty much out the whole time with little to no flame and lots of smoke. I covered the distance from the bottom edge of the hide to the ground with fabric pieces provided by my wife. I smoked it for about two or three hours.
I have no noticeable hair slippage at all. I did pull a few out while breaking, but only when I grabbed it wrong.
Done! After I was done it was still good and flexible. However, I put it in my garage to let it air out and after it sat overnight it has gotten stiff again. I'm not sure what's gone wrong. I'm hoping I don't have to chunk it and start over, but I really don't know. Any advice at this point would be greatly appreciated.