You can contact the domain registrar to get information on the status of the domain name. Some domain registrars contact the domain owner and offer a buyback price.
Since I have a Go Daddy domain, I can cite the example of the offers they have. They have two kinds of service when you want a domain that has been taken.
Buy domain service
The registrar will contact the owner of the domain name. If the owner is ready to sell the domain, they will arrange a buyback. But the price is much higher than for a regular purchase.
If the back ordered domains are inactive, they go for domain auction. You have to be real fast to register yourself for the auction. Further details can be obtained from the registrar web site. The domains that have not been renewed or inactive for an extended period of time generally go for auction. This option too will be quite costly. I would suggest you to opt for it only if you are sure that the name makes a huge difference to your business or the dream as you stated.
I assume almost all domain registrars follow the similar procedure with the already taken, but inactive domain.
I would advice you to refrain from hacking into the domain name. It would amount to an illegal practice and you will be liable for punishment under cyber crime guidelines.
Live....and Let Live!