Jennifer dropped the hammer on a deer, and heard the second loudest noise in the world - a *click* when expecting a BOOM. She includes a picture of the dimpled round, which is a Hornady V-Max .223. I made a quick comment from my tablet last night, which was... pointed.
I have a real computer in front of me now and expanded upon it there, but reposting here because it's important information, IMHO.
On re-read in the dim light of morning, my reply last night was a bit brusque. I apologize – I was on my tablet and fighting it for spelling. Not an excuse, mind you, just circumstance.
Now that I’m in front of a real computer, a more-better answer. As Daniels already said, Vmax won’t hold together. They’re pretty fragile bullets, short of being frangible, and smacking a rib or shoulder blade on the way in will turn them into shards that don’t penetrate very well. The deer may well die, but it’ll do it a day or two and several miles later.
Bonded bullets – things like Remington CoreLokt, Hornady Interlocks/Interbonds, and the like – are designed to take that hit without shedding the jacket and fragmenting. They’ll create one consistent wound channel through the deer and mash the necessary vitals on the way through.
One step further, perhaps in a slightly different direction, is the solids, like the Barnes TSX I mentioned before. It’s a single-metal construction, so there is no jacket to shed, and the TSX in particular is known for outstanding performance on deer.
I don’t know what twist rate you’re using in your rifle, but even if it’s a 1/9 I’d suggest getting a box or two of 62gr CoreLokt Premiums or Barnes TSX, getting a new zero, and using those. If you’re lucky enough to be using a 1/8 or 1/7 rifle, I’d step up to the 69-72gr range.
There’s a VERY long thread on ArfCom about deer hunting with .223 here. And, corollary, another one from a guy getting pretty soundly lambasted for blaming the bullet for losing a deer.
Personal anecdote: A few years ago, I was out in the end of deer season and tromping across a field near sunset. I didn't see a drifted-over drainage ditch, and went ass-over-teakettle into it. My gun (870) got thoroughly packed with snow. I cleared the bore, receiver, etc, and reloaded. A few minutes later a deer popped out of the hedge, I raised the gun, took a shot, and missed. I worked the action, and instead of loading the next shell, the magazine tube promptly vomited all four slugs into foot-deep snow. Seems when I'd reloaded, the shell lifter had gotten frozen in the up position, and when I pulled the slide back, the shell catch in the tube froze open. I went home and hung it up for the day.
1 month ago