Turns out, it's way easier said than done.
My time with Skyrim was a comparatively brief few hours, which meant I couldn't be picky. I set out to find my victim as quickly as possible. The dragon in question was a skinny thing, a pup in the dragon world, I imagine. But its size didn't seem to affect its lethality.
See, this dragon had just attacked another town to the south -- apparently, an attack my character survived, though I didn't experience it for myself. In delivering the message to the Jarl (kind of a mayor type) of a nearby town, it's decided that a select group of troops should ride out and check the western guard tower, as that's the direction the dragon was last seen.
Arriving at the tower, I found one man who survived the dragon's assault. In the distance, I could see it come in for another go as it emerged from a mountain top. At first, it circled the battlefield, generously peppering the land around the tower with fire. Eventually, it landed, and I charged it, fists at the ready. I was determined to punch this thing dead. And then it ate me and everyone laughed.
Next try, I decided I would go with a distance approach -- let it fly around and burn everything, I'm going to take it down with an Elven bow I, uh, stole. And as I stood tall atop the huge stone guard tower, letting loose arrow after arrow, I actually made progress. I felt like a champion.
But unlike the seemingly immortal (scrawny, baby) dragon, I learned from my deaths. My third try involved a mixture of ranged attacks, magic, and good ole-fashioned bludgeoning. I started atop the tower, hitting it with as many arrows as I could before it shifted its focus exclusively on me. Then I ran inside the tower, caught my breath, healed myself with a spell and surveyed my inventory, and ran back up. I hit it with all of the arrows in my inventory, but it wasn't enough. I knew what had to be done.
Switching to a shield and hand axe, I ran outside and hid beneath some crumbled stone. As it called me out and plodded around the tower looking for me, I pounced. Running up behind it, I let loose a flurry of strikes until my stamina was all but depleted. As agile as it was in the air, on the ground it had a tough time turning around. I found its weakness. I was a regular Matthew McConaughey.
My (admittedly cowardly) tactics worked: the dragon was dead. As I approached its corpse, I absorbed its powers, quickened, as it were. My character inhaled its essence and power, and it felt so damn good. Though my initial failures were upsetting, my eventual conquest yielded the sweetest reward.
I overcame the challenge and killed a dragon -- and I can't wait to do that infinite more times.